Homeowners Association

Dr. Bahr’s History Class – Canton 101

Canton Hollow by Raymond Bahr – August 2017

The Land facing the Canton Hollow with ships awaiting their turn to go into the Inner Harbor, was followed by the Pennsylvania RR Yard and the offshore Transfer Bridge, and now because of the efforts of William Donald Schaefer has become the Canton Waterfront Park.

Life in Canton during the early 1800s was interesting and attractive for some, hard and miserable for many others. One of the centers for social activity in the early days of Canton was a white-washed log tavern known as the White House. Located on a corner of what are now Boston and Clinton Streets, it overlooked Canton Hollow (photo) which was the traditional anchorage – first for the Baltimore Clippers (Pride); then for the brigs and barcs of the Brazilian coffee trade; and during the early 20th century, for the Chesapeake Bay schooners and rams.

Canton Hollow was the location where boats would moor before getting their instruction to go into the Inner Harbor, which at that time was Fells Point. In the photo above, you can appreciate the large number of ships in anchorage.

As part of the Industrial Revolution that was taking place in the Canton area, the Pennsylvania Railroad established a yard, including the ferrying of railroad cars between Canton and Locust Point. The structure we still see outside Canton Cove was the terminal point at which railroad cars left the land and went onto the barges that carried them to and fro across the harbor.

Later, Mayor William Donald Schaefer was able to get this valuable piece of land for the City and made it into a waterfront park that looks out into the harbor at the entrance to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor between Fort McHenry on the right and Rukert’s Lighthouse on the left.

The Views from the (Schaefer) Waterfront Park has to be one of the most picturesque views in all of Baltimore. It has always been a treasure ready to be discovered. The 7- mile long Baltimore Promenade that follows the harbor starts here. There seems to be room for all kind of leisure life to forget one’s woes and open up to all that is taking place before one’s eyes and ears. Friendly gestures brightens one’s spirit. Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. would be proud to have this as part of his Baltimore Plan.

First Thursdays (WTMD radio) fill the park with music lovers catching the water views as a background. Pop up Yoga and Sunday morning Yoga with a parade of young couples walking with mats in hand toward the park from all over the Canton, Fells Point and Highlandtown areas. Wedding parties and photo-ops galore fit into the overall mixture of people-friendly activities.

It is important to appreciate what we presently have here in the Canton Waterfront Park. A City Master Plan is being designed this year, and it is hoped that Cantonites step-up and not let the new design get out of line with the spacious tranquility that we now enjoy every day.