Canton, Baltimore, Maryland
Canton is a historic waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. The neighborhood is along Baltimore's outer harbor in the southeastern section of the city, roughly two miles east of Baltimore's downtown district and next to or near the neighborhoods of Patterson Park, Fell's Point, Highlandtown, and Brewers Hill.
Canton is considered one of Baltimore's trendiest and vibrant neighborhoods, known for its family-friendly community, urban lifestyle and hot spot for the social scene. The inclusive neighborhood continues to see rapid growth as more development opportunities come into the area. Since the late 1990s, the neighborhood has undergone significant gentrification and has been ranked the 16th most-gentrified zip code in the nation from 2000–2016.
In 1785, Irish merchant John O'Donnell settled in Baltimore and began trading with merchants in the Chinese port of Guangzhou, then called Canton by English speakers. When O'Donnell purchased land, he named his plantation Canton. In the late 18th century, O'Donnell's land was sold off by his son Columbus O’Donnell, William Patterson and Peter Cooper, and was developed by the Canton Company for the waterfront industry and blue-collar housing.
During the early 19th century, European immigrants settled in the area. Welsh immigrants, primarily workers from South Wales, began settling in Baltimore in large numbers beginning in the 1820s. Welsh and Irish migrant workers composed a large portion of Baltimore's working class during the early and mid-1800s. In 1850, a large community of copper workers from Wales settled in the neighborhood. These workers established a Presbyterian church in 1865, located on Toone Street in Canton. Subsequent groups of immigrants have included Germans, Poles and Ukrainians.
In the 2000s, as industry moved out, new housing and marinas have been developed along the waterfront and gentrification of the existing housing has occurred further inland.
Canton is bounded by Patterson Park and Eastern Ave to the north, Chester Street to the west, the waterfront to the south, and Conkling Street to the east. The streets are laid out in a uniform north to south and east to west directions, with the major exception of Boston Street, which runs along the Patapsco River waterfront.
Canton is conveniently situated with easy access to Interstate 95, Interstate 895 and Boston Street and Eastern Avenues, which provide major surface routes to downtown Baltimore. Two high-frequency MTA bus lines (Gold and Navy) service Canton for direct access to the central business district and Penn Station. The south waterfront area provides a water taxi link to Locust Point.
Many of the structures are included in the Canton Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.
Canton's traditional center is O'Donnell Square, a small park bordered on the north and south by O'Donnell Street, to the east by South Potomac Street, and to the west by Linwood Avenue. O'Donnell Square is home to a number of lively bars and restaurants, gift shops, salons and other small businesses, as well as residences. Canton is also immediately adjacent to Patterson Park, a popular nearby attraction for local residents. In the 2000s, developments have added focus areas to the neighborhood, including the Canton Waterfront Park and Maryland Korean War Memorial, the rehabilitated American Can Company building, the Du Burns Soccer Arena, two marinas, a public boat launch, and new bars and restaurants. The Canton Dog Park, the first off-leash dog park in Baltimore, has been open for dog lovers since 2002.
The neighborhood is home to the many food and wine festivals, Light Night Canton, Baltimore's annual Ukrainian-American festival, summer concert series, and is a popular destination to view Baltimore Harbor July 4th fireworks. A premier shopping complex, The Shops at Canton Crossing, anchored by Target and Nordstrom Rack, has been serving local residents since 2013.
Notable churches in the area include the St. Casimir (Roman Catholic) Church, built c. 1926, the St. Michael the Archangel Ukrainian Catholic Church, and the (Episcopal) Church on the Square.
Enoch Pratt Free Library branch
Canton’s branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore’s first and in operation since 1866, is centrally located on O’Donnell Square.
According to the Baltimore Historical Society Canton became the Canton we now know because of the Canton Company that began in 1828 with the start of the Industrial Revolution that continued in Canton until well into the 1980s and many people feel that the Spirit of the Revolution continues even today. At one time, the Canton Company owned and leased more than 10,000 acres where industry could flourish under a benevolent company. Industries would come and go, but there was always another industry and a new idea that would replace it successfully. Today, we have an expanding Brewer’s Hill Technology Area that is spreading east and north to fuse with the expanding Medical Complex taking place at Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, and we have heard about a new company involved with the Personal Genome Project. Yes, the Canton Company is very much alive in spirit even today.
Later on the Gunther Brewing Company would establish itself just south of the National Brewing Company on Conkling Street.
Prohibition applies to the period (1920-1933) in the history of the United States during which the prohibition of alcohol was enforced. Prohibition was instituted with ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors in the United States. Congress would pass the “Volstead Act” to enforce the law.
However, most large cities were uninterested in enforcing the law, leaving an understaffed federal service to go after bootleggers involved in organized crime associated with this illegal activity.
Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression. The repeal movement got started and emphasized the enormous sums of much needed tax revenue and weakening the base of organized crime. The Repeal of Prohibition was accomplished with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1933.
In the Memoirs of Michael V.Lardner, Mr Frank Gunther and his brother, George, had a Brewery on Conkling Street just south of the National Brewing Company. They were looking for an office boy and hired Michael Lardner who was then 15 years old. When Michael was 17 years old, he became secretary to both brothers and was sent to school in 1919 to become a bookkeeper for the Gunther Brewery.
After prohibition set in, the Brewery made real beer and then pumped it back to the kettle to de-alcoholize it by boiling it off to reduce it to the required 1/2 of 1% alcohol. Many Gunther workers opted to work on the roofs of Gunther Company to inhale the vapors that were coming up!
With prohibition and good beer at the brewery, the Gunthers found a lot of “long lost friends” who wanted to come and get some real beer! It was Michael Lardner whose job it became to procure the food for parties throughout the days and evenings.
George Gunther would say, “Mike, you take charge and get any of the help from the employees you need.” Mike always had on hand 5 barrels of Chincoteague Oysters, two dozen Diamond Back Terrapins, a deer, a bear, various cheeses, celery by the crate, large cans of pretzels, pounds of raw beef, onions, and a good supply of rye and pumpernickel breads.
Dignitaries got wind of the real beer and sumptuous food and came. Governor Ritchie, Mayor Broening, Frank Kelly, Danny Loden……and H.L. Mencken who became the centerpiece for many parties to follow. The Saturday Night Club parties would last from 9 pm until 3 or 4 in the morning. The singing became very loud, especially when it came to the German Songs.
H.L. Mencken always led the singing that would go round and round the table with lots of hilarity at some of the impromptu compositions. They would always reminiscence about the Days of Canton-past which were vibrant days full of fun and adventure.
This spirit has never left Canton. Fells Point may have its ghost stories of sailors being hijacked to far-away places and being paid by the boom on return, but here in Canton there are many stories of real men and women, courageous and risk-taking, to go along with the real beer!