Carrie Alblec, Brian Cleven, RCGA
Baltimore East/South Clifton Park Historic District
Baltimore, Baltimore City
The Baltimore East/South Clifton Park Historic District is primarily an urban residential area organized in a gridiron pattern that comprises approximately 110 whole and partial blocks that formed the historic northeast corner of the City of Baltimore prior to 1888. The area is served by a hierarchy of primary and secondary streets that were extensions of platted streets of Fells Point. The north-south and east-west streets are the largest streets through the area, while narrower north-south streets divide large blocks and serve as service alleys. The development of the area resulted in the construction of high-density, but low-scale two and three-story rowhouses between 1870 and 1930. Rowhouses are the dominant building type in this urban area. The buildings are oriented towards the streets with facades lining the public concrete sidewalks. The rows of dwellings present unified streetscapes. The rhythmic repetition of steps and stoops for the dwellings also contributes to the overall cohesiveness of the district. Street furniture is limited to street lights and bus shelters. Only North Broadway has been landscaped as a boulevard. While rowhouses dominate the urban area, the historic district also contains other property types which contribute to its character. North Gay Street serves as a major transportation corridor that bisects the district. Historically, Gay Street was the site of six breweries, which were established between 1853 and 1867. The American Brewery complex survives to document the lively brewery industry of the area. The five-story ornamental brew house dominates views throughout the district. The district also features community support structures, including churches, schools, and a fire station. Municipal facilities are represented by the Eastern High Service Pumping Station. A few commercial buildings are found within the area, primarily integrated into blocks of rowhouses as corner stores. Industrial buildings are concentrated along North Gay Street and along two sets of railroad lines that traverse the northern and southern edges of the historic district. The original uses for the industrial buildings reflect localized aspects of Baltimore's industrial base during the first half of the 20th century. The historic industrial uses include brewing, meat packing, cigar manufacturing, printing, and a tobacco warehouse. The Baltimore Cemetery completes the historic district. The design of the urban cemetery reflects the gridiron pattern of the city's development.
The Baltimore East/South Clifton Park Historic District comprises two neighborhoods: Baltimore East and South Clifton Park. Baltimore East was the northeast corner of the city when East North Avenue defined the city's northern boundary between 1816 and 1888. Platted as part of the 1823 Poppleton Plan, the neighborhood developed as a residential area according to that community plan with only minor alterations. In 1888, land annexation incorporated acreage to the north and west of the former boundary line into the city's boundaries. The South Clifton Park neighborhood represents a small section of that annexation. The history of how these two areas evolved into urban residential neighborhoods documents the story of Baltimore's urbanization between 1850 and c. 1955. The Baltimore East/South Clifton Park Historic District typifies the broad patterns of the urban history of the City of Baltimore from c. 1850 through the mid 20th century. During this time period, the area's development followed a progression from rural estates to industrial and recreational uses (1850-1869), to a working-class residential area (1870-c. 1955). The need for working-class housing units resulted from a substantial and rapid population increase in Baltimore as the city's industrial and commercial base expanded during the late 19th century. The large number of rowhouses constructed between 1870 and 1930 for working people in the area illustrate the entire range of rowhouse types identified for that period by Hayward and Belfoure (1999). The rowhouses in the historic district illustrate a clear chronological pattern spreading north and eastwards from the intersection of North Gay Street and North Broadway and filling the 1816 boundaries of the city at East North Avenue. The rowhouses built in South Clifton Park illustrate examples of daylighter rowhouses, which were constructed between 1915 and 1928. The churches, schools, commercial, and industrial buildings also illustrate styles and forms typical of their periods of construction.