Photo credit: Breck Chapman , 01/2004

Property Name: Canton Historic District
Date Listed: 1/29/1980
Inventory No.: B-3704
Location: Baltimore, Baltimore City

Description: Canton Historic District is an urban-industrial neighborhood in southeast Baltimore, featuring 91 square blocks of rowhouses built close to the harbor and to the commerce of the larger Canton industrial community. Some of the larger industrial buildings line the southern rim of the district, with access to the harbor and the Penn Central Railroad, along Boston Street. The streets are laid out uniformly from north to south and east to west, on land that rises gently but steadily from the northwest branch of the Patapsco River, north to Patterson Park, and northeast to a height of 150’ above sea level in the vicinity of Foster Avenue and Conkling Street. Boston Street is the only exception to this street plan, diagonally following the edge of the waterfront on the south, as do Cambridge and Essex Streets in the southwest corner of the district. The streets, houses, and other buildings were built in a variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. The district includes major transportation arteries (Eastern Avenue on the north and Boston Street on the south), and narrow alley streets, such as Glover Street and Belnord Avenue. Interspersed throughout the district are numerous courts, like Holtzman and Wise, usually one block in length with limited access. The longer and more uniform blocks of flat-roofed brick rowhouses built in the early 20th century show more variety in style and size, and have had more alterations. Most blocks include some type of business or service, like the bakery, tailor shop, corner store or tavern that has rendered a stabilizing influence upon the neighborhood and which architecturally is part of the unity of the block. But often a church, school, club, or shop breaks the visual continuity of the rowhouses. Higher concentrations of businesses are found along Eastern Avenue and the 500 block of South Conkling Street.

Significance: Canton, a residential/industrial community in southeast Baltimore, is the product of over 100 years of planned development supervised by the Canton Company, a real estate development firm. the Canton Company, formed in 1828, at one time owned approximately 3000 acres in the Canton area, including over two miles of prime commercial frontage on the Patapsco River. Although the majority of the original industrial fabric in Canton has been replaced by its modern counterparts, several warehouses, the residential neighborhoods, and the social composition of Canton have retained much of their historic character. The numerous blocks of brick rowhouses interspersed with several frame, brick, and stone churches provide an uninterrupted picture of a working-class neighborhood in the second half of the 19th century.


Boundary Map

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