A Drive Down the Jones Falls


My friends Rachel, Mike and Nancy and I hit the road from Bolton Hill to Canton, two neighborhoods in Baltimore. We decided to take the lower portion of the Jones Falls Expressway to get there, as it is the fastest route and we were pressed for time. Also, it affords views of many different parts of the city. We got on at North Avenue, where the massive interstate viaduct precludes any chance of a walkable environment. The intersection is famous for the sale of bean pies by people who walk down the median dressed to the nines in 1940’s fashion, complete with bowler hats some days. Later that evening, Rachel and I saw a swarm of children on motorbikes and four wheelers flying by the same point–without adult supervision, of course. Only in Baltimore: I remarked later that I had literally seen anarchy at that point. There was no one in control of North Avenue at that moment other than the criminals. But I digress; this post is really about an interstate and its relation, and future relation, to the city through which it cuts.

Soon after getting on the Jones Falls, as locals call it, you reach what I heard referred to as Dead Man’s Curve: two 45 degree turns in the interstate as it followed the Jones Falls River Valley. You can see one of the turns from this aerial photo from an earlier post. Penn Station is viewable to the left. True to its notorious reputation, coming home later Saturday we saw the remnants of a horrible car crash right at the first northbound turn. Now that I think about it, some of the worst late night crashes I have come upon are on this interstate.

The remaining pictures show the northbound view of the Jones Falls, demonstrating all of the asinine amount of concrete that covers over what must have once been a spectacular valley.

Straight ahead is an infamous three story interchange, which rises one hundred feet above the valley floor, destroying any sense of what was once here.

Druid Hill Park is scraped on the eastern edge by the Jones Falls as well. Tomorrow, we will see more of the industry that thrived for over one hundred years on the rapids of the Jones Falls.

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