Laura Wexler doesn't mind being called a freak, at least when referring to her love for her neighborhood -- Charles Village. When Laura, a Cockeysville native, decided to return to Maryland in 2001, her only choice was moving to Charles Village, she says. "I looked around the city, and had a friend who lived in Charles Village. I visited him and thought this feels right for me. I chose Charles Village because it's urban, but it has trees and more of a park like feel than a lot of the other neighborhoods in the city."
"I liked that a lot. I like to walk. I wanted a yard. The biggest selling points of the neighborhood for me are how walkable it is," she continues.
On a walkabout
According to Laura, there are "plenty of days" when she and her husband don't use their car. "Especially on the weekends, we go to the Waverly [Farmer's] Market in the morning. We have an 18-month old, so we'll go to one of several playgrounds in the neighborhood."
Even on weekdays, Laura's commute to work (she teaches one day a week at Johns Hopkins) is an easy walk from home.
"For us, having a young kid, we're out walking, trying to keep her occupied all the time. Being in a walking neighborhood has been so great. I really, really like that and it was important to me," she says.
Choices, choices, choices
Laura and family frequent many of Charles Village's restaurants including Darker Than Blue, Niwana, Thai Restaurant, the Charles Village Pub, Tamber's Nifty Fifties, One World Café and [The Dizz]. And, of course, they typically walk to get there.
Shopping in Charles Village offers a lot of choices as well. National chains, Giant and Ace Hardware, are a luxury most neighborhoods in the city don't offer. Laura also patronizes the locally-owned neighborhood businesses, including Normal's, Cloud 9, the Book Thing, Eddie's Market.
"The nice thing is there are fewer and fewer reasons we need to go to the suburbs anymore," Laura notes. "We're 10 minutes driving from the Target at Mondawmin, so I run errands there. And there are reports that they're building a Lowe's on 25th Street. And I thought I may never have to go to the suburbs anymore in terms of doing shopping."
Charles Village is also full of families with small children, another really appealing factor for Laura. "Everybody meets at an open space between Abel and Guildford on 32nd. It's just a green space with a little playground and that's sort of the heart of the families with small children community," she says.
Laura and her husband recently started a parent group, "Village Parents" for the neighborhood. They're hosting a used toy and book swap at the Village Learning Place, which she says is another great resource that hosts speakers, programs and a program for toddlers every Tuesday morning. There's also a children's coop, Children of the World. "It's a play group held in the Cathedral of the Incarnation."
"More and more there's a sense of community with parents, and in the neighborhood itself. We're members of the Charles Village Civic Association. The neighborhood has some key activities, the Charles Village Festival."
With residents who have lived in the neighborhood 20, 30 or more years, Laura says the connection throughout the community is strong.