Friday, May 26, 2006

More on parking from Kevin

Kevin V. drives to Baltimore everyday for work and has a lot of experience. He offers this advice to those of us driving in:
Parking in Baltimore is an interesting challenge on a number of levels.
First, let me observe that the map provided here is a bit misleading.
One-way streets are more pervasive in the downtown area than your map suggests.

For the sake of context let me outline:
First the East-West bits-
The important parts: Pratt is one-way going East from at least Route 1(far more westerly than you want to think about going)to at least Patterson Park (quite interesting but far more east than you want to consider unless you're going to Greektown); Lombard is one-way going west with the same parameters as Pratt. Baltimore - Eastward, Fayette - westward, after that comes Route 40/Franklin Street which is another story altogether and then you are too far for practical purposes.

North South-
From 395 moving east: 395/Howard is two-way up to Lombard and then one-way north. Park (the next one west and not well marked on your map) goes south, Charles goes north, Light goes south, Calvert - north, south is, I believe, two-way, Gay street - north, after that is President street which is an esplanade. Moving east: Eutaw is two-way, Paca goes north, Greene goes south.

OK, with this grid lets talk about the specifics...the garages first- All day rates at the hotels average $15/day. Elsewhere the average is $10-$12 for the garages and lots. Mariner Arena parking (just north of lombard and Howard) is at the lower price range and is handy coming in.
The walk to the convention site isn't too bad. The spot just before it (just south of Lombard and Howard) is a bit more expensive, but easier to get into and out of. On Baltimore just east of Howard and on the north side is another garage (shown only as a "P" above the arena on the map). I park there most so there is my bias. $10/day and the walk is about the same as the arena. Turning on Pratt and then on Charles brings one to the Hopkins/Federal offices area. Just left on Lombard or just north of lombard on the left will both get one to this garage. They charge $15 - hey it's the feds...The good part is that the exit-also on lombard-will help with the leaving-the-city part. Further up Charles is Charles center parking. Usually some there, but getting there is slow.

The IBM garage is available, but also at the higher end. To get there - go further on Pratt to South (where the convention is centered), turn left, go to Lombard, turn left and go back to Light. Turn left and it is immediately on the left. Advantage here is that it is close. Continuing on Pratt to Market, turning left brings on to two more: left on Lombard to the Baltimore Community College area or further up to Cider and left to the Power Plant parking. Both of these are fairly close to the site and less favored by commuters and non-college folks. At the outer eastern edge for practicality is the parking garage near Pratt and President street. There is also lots of parking at the foot of President street, but that is a little far unless really pressed.

Lots: My experience is that the lot across from the hotel is mostly full, but is always fun to try. Heh. The Lots by Camden yards often have spaces, but getting longer term coverage (like for the day) can be a bit tricky. Also, if there is a ball game run while you can still save yourself.

I should mention the area from the Convention center south: The parking garage and Lot (yes, there are two) just off Conway are possibilities. Conway is an esplanade running right from 395/Howard as one is coming in (the west lane is just on the other side). Heavy commuter traffic here means plan your turn ahead if you wish to try this one. Continuing on Conway and turning on Light street will take one south and to a couple more garages and lots. The walk is very nice. If you decide to try this and change your mind you can always right on Lee or Hughes, go to Charles, turn right and head back into town.

This is a longish posting, I know, but it is intel you need for dealing with parking in this town.

I haven't really responded to the "recommend or warn" part. Parking, itself, is largely what one can find and how much one wants to pay. Traffic in Baltimore deserves a warn. The one way streets are infuriating at times around the usual commute schedule. I guess I would recommend being willing to walk a bit with respect to parking choices.

Your options, in general, increase and the relative price decreases with distance from the harbor. Even the parking near the courthouse area on South is not too bad in this respect. If one really doesn't mind the walk there is lots of cheap parking around Lexington Market (the eutaw/paca/lexington area) but the section of town is a little 'rough'. Also lots of parking around Enoch Pratt Library - but that too pushes the distance so I guess I'd suggest hesitation there. Downtown Baltimore pretty much empties out by about 7PM....

OK, that is probably enough. There is/will be parking spaces (that's why you will see lots of signs in Baltimore saying "Believe"). You now have enough information to search knowledgeably and with some hope of success.

Good luck to us all.

Kevin

Update: Sally R. has some additions to Kevin's comments:
I just read Kevin's recommendations on parking. They are quite good, and generally I would agree.

However, I would add that the one-way streets alternate directions north-south and east-west. So that Lombard is one-way west, but the street one block north, Baltimore St., and one block south, Pratt St., are each one-way east. This was done purposely, to make it easy to "drive around the block," which you can do a lot, looking for parking. Public transportation in the area around the Inner Harbor / Convention Center area is quite good. If you are coming from the south (Anne Arundel, Montgomery or PG County or DC) or the north (northern Baltimore County, Carroll County, York / Harrisburg / Hershey PA), you might consider parking in one of the Light Rail stations (south - North Linthicum or Cromwell Station) (north - Hunt Valley Towne Center is about 1/4 mile east of I-83 and Shawan Road) and taking the light rail into Downtown Baltimore. There is a light rail stop at the west side of the Convention Center and the fare is about $3.50 for a full day pass. Monday - Saturday it runs from 6am to 11pm. Parking at most of the stations in the suburbs is free and quite safe. Schedule and map of the stations may be found at http://www.mtamaryland.com/services/lightrail/schedule/.

Also, folks should be wary of where they might consider all-day parking. Try to stay in the Inner Harbor / Convention Center area. There are some sections of downtown Baltimore, not too far from the Inner Harbor, which are usually quite safe by day, but not too great, especially for the feminine gender, after dusk. I would avoid parking in those areas if you are going to be returning to your car after dark. Specifically, the area around the Lexington market.

Sally

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Mexican Restaurant

For an inexpensive lunch you might want to check out "The California Tortilla" that has just opened at the corner of Howard and Pratt Streets across the street from the convention center. You can check out their menu in advance at http://www.californiatortilla.com If you sign up for their newsletter you will receive a coupon for a free taco.

Jazz & Blues Festival

Sunday, June 11th there will be a jazz & blues festival within walking distance of the Convention Center. The event will feature at least 15 of Baltimore's live jazz and blues bands. Over 75 vendors are scheduled to appear offering arts and antiques, as well as food and libations from local restaurants. 11 am to 7 pm. S. Charles St at E. Cross St. on both sides of Cross Street Market. Admission is free.

Parking

See also:
http://sla-maryland.blogspot.com/2006/02/kevin-answers-question-whats-it-like.html

There is no official parking for conference attendees. The Convention Center has a web page with some links to resources: http://www.bccenter.org/about/parking.html . (nb: the "godowntownBaltimore" site does not work in Firefox, use the link below to go directly to the map)

Expect to pay ~$10 a day
In a nutshell, use this map to see where lots and garages are: http://www.bccenter.org/about/dt_map_web.htm

Update: I should have mentioned that this information is also available in our pdf guide, downloadable at: http://www.sla.org/chapter/cmd/Baltguide.pdf

Mmmmm Candy...

We'll be handing out this fabulous local candy at the booth.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's a big building -- where will we be in the convention center?

The SLA Maryland Booth will be in the Pratt Street Lobby area (http://bccenter.org/flash/300static.gif , note: north is *down* on this map) .

See this birds eye view of the convention center:


My Windows Live Local collection

1 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201, United States

Sites for Civil War Buffs

If you are renting a car and have a little time, there are quite a few Civil War Battle Sites within easy driving distance from Baltimore. The best web pages to find out more are:
  • Civil War Traveler http://www.civilwar-va.com/index.html
  • National Park Service sites including:
    • http://www.nps.gov/frsp/nonnps.htm (Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg in Virginia)
    • http://www.nps.gov/gett/home.htm (Gettysburg in Pennsylvania)
    • http://www.nps.gov/anti/ (Antietam in Maryland)
    • http://www.nps.gov/mana/home.htm (Manassas or Bull Run in Virginia)
See, in particular, this map: http://www.civilwar-va.com/about/maps/VA-MDmapside.pdf (2MB pdf)

Please note that there are now entrance fees for many National Park Service sites.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Walk Into History

I discovered this "newly enhanced" Heritage Walk in the Thursday May 4th LIVE section of the Baltimore Sun. If this is anything like the Boston Freedom Trail it should be worth doing.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Flag Day Events

June 14 is Flag Day and there is no better place to celebrate it than Fort McHenry. Fort McHenry's summer hours (June 3 through September 4, 2006) are 8am-8pm for the park and 8am-7:45pm for the star fort.

From the special events calendar (http://www.nps.gov/fomc/pphtml/eventdetail21350.html)
Fort McHenry Guard - Defenders Return to the Fort
Summer Weekends - Beginning June 3-4, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Experience the daily life of the War of 1812 soldier, sailor and citizen through presentations by the Fort McHenry Guard. Dressed in replica clothing of the early Nineteenth Century, the Guard conducts drills, barracks activities, artillery and musket firing demonstrations, civilian activities, and children's programs.

Flag Day - Pause for the Pledge of Allegiance
Wednesday, June 14, 6:30 p.m.
An event sponsored by the National Flag Day Foundation to foster patriotism. This annual event encourages citizens all over the United States to pause at 7:00 p.m. (EDT) and say the Pledge of Allegiance. A concert of patriotic music and fireworks follows.
Unfortunately, this park now has an entry fee:
Individual - Adult (16 or older)
Fees: $5.00 - 7 Days
Details: Entrance fee to the historic fort is $5.00 for adults 16 and over. Children 15 and under are admitted free of charge.

Update: Perhaps it's a good idea to mention what Flag Day is? It commemorates the resolution in the Continental Congress, June 14, 1777:
Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.
See the page in the Journals of the Continental Congress. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, 1774-1875 from the Library of Congress. The June 14 "Today in History" page from LOC has more.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More Trivia: Who was the despot?

Maryland's state song is Maryland, My Maryland (sung to the tune of "O, Tannenbaum").

The lyrics are from a poem by James Ryder Randall. The first stanza is :

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!


So who was the despot in the song?

Update: Answer: The Union! Maryland was a border state, with the northern boundary defined by the Mason-Dixon line. It is truly "American in Miniature" with beaches, rural farmland, big cities and suburbs, and mountains. In the Civil War, troops were sent to both sides. Today, Maryland is a blue state, but only Baltimore and 3 of the 23 counties consistently vote blue. The remainder vote red, but are far less populous.

Here's a quote from the Maryland Manual about the state song:
"Maryland, My Maryland" was adopted as the State song in 1939 (Chapter 451, Acts of 1939; Code State Government Article, sec. 13-307).

The nine-stanza poem, "Maryland, My Maryland," was written by James Ryder Randall in April 1861. A native of Maryland, Randall was teaching in Louisiana in the early days of the Civil War, and he was outraged at the news of Union troops being marched through Baltimore. The poem articulated Randall's Confederate sympathies. Set to the traditional tune of "Lauriger Horatius" ("O, Tannenbaum"), the song achieved wide popularity in Maryland and throughout the South.

B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore

Thomas H. writes to tell us about some really cool events scheduled at the B&O (Baltimore & Ohio) Railroad Museum.

The B&O Train Museum in Baltimore is at 901 West Pratt St., about 6 blocks west of the U Maryland Med Center. Admission is $14 adult, $12 over 60. Saturday 10 June there are special events:

Turntable Demonstrations
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Demonstration begins at 11:30 a.m.
Ever wonder how the Museum moves locomotives and cars in and out of the
1884 Roundhouse? Watch Museum staff use the turntable to move an
historic railcar. Free train rides included in the price of admission.

To see a working turntable is rare. Thomas

Speaking Bawlmerese, Hons!

Timonium-raised Michael L. writes us to suggest we help visitors get along in Bawlmerese (speaking like a Baltimorean). Like when ya go down t'harber, hon, n git sum natty boh...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Convenience stores, fast food... How do I save money?

We received the question: are there convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, sandwich shops, or other such places within a few blocks of the Convention Center?

Debbie B. answered:
There are plenty of carry-outs, delis, fast food and even street food vendors very reasonably priced all around the convention center.

Christina adds:
Also, take a look at the restaurant section in the print guide -- it has a handy scale from $ to $$$$ so you know before you go what you're in for.

Lexington Market might be your best friend -- inexpensive, quick-cooked hot meals, doughnuts, fresh fruits for snacks... not too much ambiance, though. (Monday-Saturday, from 8:30 am to 6pm, see mapped on Wayfaring)

There are also CVS and Rite Aid pharmacies near by.

Which restaurants offer a view of the water?

We received a request asking which reception locations and restaurants have a view of the water.... that's a tough question, but Debbie B. took a shot:
Regarding dining on the water...there are SO many options...too many to list. There are 3 pavillions that border the Inner Harbor. The Light St and Pratt St Pavillions offer many outside and/or water view dining options. They range from very upscale seafood and steak house restaurants to more clubby/bistro offerings to carry out options. It can be great fun to grab something from one of the vendors or carry out restaurants and seat on one of the many benches directly on the piers of the Harbor.
Another option and a great example of local flavor is Fells Point...very close to the Harbor. It offers many bars, bistros and cafes most with outdoor seating and many are on the inlet of Fells Point. It's a trendy and busy locals hangout especially on the weekends. There are also some restaurants there that can offer great brunch options as well.
The following website is an excellent interactive guide to the Inner Harbor and all of the surrounding areas....www.baltimore.to
To that, I add that if you map in Windows Live Local, and zoom in, and then click on "birds eye view" you can get a 3-D view. So you can tell, for example, that a hotel that is 3 blocks away from the water still has a water view from the rooftop restaurant.

Side Trips: Washington, D.C.

Can't wait until 2009? Deb B. provides this information on side trips to D.C.

Day Trips to Washington, DC from the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, MD

During the weekdays the primary options for traveling from Baltimore to Washington, DC include rental car and Marc train to the Washington Metro System. The Marc train can be boarded at 1 of 3 stations: Penn Station (using the Penn line), Camden Yards Station (directly across from the Convention Center using the Camden line or BWI (Penn Line). During rush hour the trains run approximately every 30 mins, after 9am and before 4:00 pm they run approximately every hour. To view the complete schedules for all Marc Train lines visit www.mtamaryland.com. One can take the train, depending on the line chosen, directly into Union Station in Washington DC or to New Carrollton, Maryland. At both locations the Metro can then be caught to many points all over DC and some of the outlying suburbs. While this would be the most convenient method for conference visitors to get into DC let me, again STRESS, that this option is only available on the weekdays and primarily during rush hours. If you suspect your stay in the City will keep you there into the evening be sure to verify the departure of the last Marc Train back to Baltimore.

After checking with the conference hotels, all of them have said the concierge or the front desk staff can assist guests with arranging for a rental car be it for a day or the duration of stay. This is just about the only way to travel from Baltimore to Washington, DC on the weekends. There is a fairly straight and pleasant route to take using US Route 295, also known as the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. Conveniently RT 295 can be accessed right out of the Inner Harbor area and in a short 45 miles one will find themselves approaching the city line of Washington, DC. The signage pointing visitors to the Downtown area of Washington are fairly well marked, but always a good idea to have a map or a set of directions with you. There is street parking around the National Mall and Museum area, but be sure to read the signs carefully to avoid tickets and towing, especially during the weekdays.

If driving, I would urge visitors to plan their departure from Baltimore after 9:30am, if a weekday, to avoid the standard rush hour commute between the 2 cities. Likewise, plan your travel back prior to 3:00 pm or after 6:30-7pm in the evening. The BW Parkway is a major commuter route and extensive delays can be expected if traveling it during the work week.

An alternative to driving all the way into DC would be to drive to one of the suburban Metro stops, such as New Carrollton or Greenbelt. Paid parking is available and the Metro trains run continually in 10-20 minute intervals from 5am on the weekdays and 7am on the weekends until midnight Sunday thru Thursdays and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. To map out a route from any Metro stop to any destination in the DC area visit the Metro website at www.wmata.com. The Metro system is very safe, unbelievably clean and the most efficient method of getting around DC. There are stops very near every major tourist attraction. The rates are very reasonable, but are higher during rush hour when the trains do run more frequently. One hint: if parking in a Metro lot be sure to purchase a Smartrip card at the beginning of your journey (machines can be found inside the stations) and be sure to add enough value to the card to cover your Metro fares and your parking as you can NOT pay and leave the parking lot without the Smartrip card.

Traveling to RFK Stadium to see the Washington Nationals Play Baseball

The Washington Nationals will have an extended home stand during the conference time, unlike the Baltimore Orioles. They will play the Philadelphia Phillies on June 10 (1:20pm) and 11 (1:05pm) and the Colorado Rockies on June 12-14 (all start times are 7:05). Just as an aside, there is a special give-away on Saturday, June 10…a Chad Cordero Bobblehead doll!

For the week day and weekend games the modes of transportation would include driving into the Stadium and parking in one of their paid parking lots or driving to one of the suburban Metro stops and taking the Metro into the Stadium Metro Station which is on the Orange/Blue line and is a direct shot from the New Carrollton Metro stop. Drive, park, hop the train and be in your seat at RFK Stadium in about an hour.

While travel suggestions for the weekday games remain the same, be very careful to keep track of time. Should the game run into extra innings you could run the chance of missing the last Metro train if that was the mode of transportation you chose to use. Remember the Metro system closes down at midnight during the week.

To learn more about the Nationals, now in their 2nd year of play, and/or RFK Stadium visit www.washington.nationals.mlb.com

Need up-to-date or even "real-time" travel status?

ResourceShelf has a new section on real-time information. Two of the first set of resources might be very helpful for SLA travelers. The following is a direct quote from ResourceShelf:

+++ FlightAware
One of a number of tools to track planes (both commercial and private) as they travel across Canadian and U.S. airspace. It's also possible (although sometimes unreliable) to track international flights either coming or going from the U.S or Canada. Many similar services exist (expect coverage of them soon). We like FlightAware because:
+ Track my tail number, airline/flight #, or airport
+ See all flights coming/going from a specific airport
+ If you register (free and easy) pages will autorefresh
+ Archive of past flight info
+ Near real-time location info (example)

+++ Amtrak Real-Time Train Status

Collecting Vinyl Records?

M.K.O. a local music expert provides this advice:

Classic rock, DJ dance type stuff, hip-hop, punk, gothic, collectables, assorted used, etc:
Record & Tape Traders
3003 N. Charles St.
Charles Village

Punk, gothic, avante garde:
Reptilian Records
403 S. Broadway
Fells Point

Assorted new and used:
Sound Garden
1616 Thames St.
Fells Point

Classic rock (just used & some collectables I think):
Joe's Record Paradise
5001 Harford Rd.

Classical:
An Die Musik
407 N. Charles St.

Hope that helps. There used to be a good shop for DJ type vinyl (dance, techno, etc) in Fells Point but I don't see the listing for it anymore and can't remember what it was called. All of these, except Joe's Record Paradise, are a short cab ride from the Inner Harbor.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

It's here! The Quoth the Raven ... Baltimore PRINT guide

Quoth the Raven... Baltimore, the print guide, is now available on the SLA Maryland Chapter Baltimore web page. It's full of helpful information on getting here, eating here, and sightseeing here. The URL is: http://www.sla.org/chapter/cmd/Baltguide.pdf (free Adobe Acrobat reader required, fairly large file, but worth it).



Taking the bus, taking the train?

We have some people coming into Baltimore via Amtrak or via Greyhound who needed to know about getting from the station to the Convention Center area. Uta H. provides some helpful advice:
I just took Greyhound last weekend back from NY to Baltimore. My advice on getting from the either the Baltimore Travel Plaza (first Baltimore stop) or the Baltimore Greyhound Station to the convention area is to call a cab. The actual GH station is located in quite a remote area south of the football stadium and has VERY limited bus service.

I've not yet travelled on Amtrack in or out of Baltimore. But since Amtrack runs to Penn Station, one could take the light rail from Penn Station to the UNIV. OF BALTIMORE/ MT. ROYAL stop, swith trains and continue on down to the Convention Center stop (http://www.mtamaryland.com/services/lightrail/schedule/)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two from the Boston Globe

Thanks to Betty Edwards of the Boston Chapter for two Boston Globe articles. These reinforce some of our Maryland Chapter recommendations forthcoming in the "Quoth the Raven..Baltimore" guide.

As with the NY Times article, you'll need archival access 7 days after these were published.

A read on Baltimore
A literary trailworth the legwork
By Kathy Shorr, Globe Correspondent May 3, 2006
http://www.boston.com/travel/articles/2006/05/03/a_read_on_baltimore/?mod

Baltimore itinerary
May 3, 2006
http://www.boston.com/travel/articles/2006/05/03/baltimore_itinerary/?mod

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A little trouble with the feed... all fixed now

If you tried to subscribe to the feed in the last week, you may have received an error. A code inadvertently cut and pasted from a Word document broke the feed.

It should be working now. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Please contact us at SLA.Maryland@gmail.com if you have any problems.

Thanks DL for the heads up!

Baltimore Trivia: Baltimore Basilica

Where, specifically, is the Baltimore Basilica, first great metropolitan Cathedral constructed in America after the adoption of the Constitution, located?

Updated (answer): Cathedral Street, directly across from the Enoch Pratt Free Library. It's undergoing extensive renovations right now. It will celebrate it's 200th anniversary in November. Unfortunately, it will be closed to visitors this summer for the extensive work.