One of Baltimore's greatest havens for fine art, music, architecture, history and all other aesthetic delights is Mount Vernon. Just north of downtown, the neighborhood is a thriving cultural center and an intrinsic element making up Baltimore's diverse urban image.
The neighborhood is an homage to the arts, which are clearly visible at every turn. The buildings are mostly original 19th century structures and highlight the ostentatious tastes of the period. Several mansions stand as bastions of the 1800s and the impossible-to-miss Washington Monument juts high over the rooftops from the center of the neighborhood.
Landmark Baltimore museums -- namely the Walters Art Museum, whose juxtaposition of art and history make it unique -- call Mount Vernon home. At Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the BSO performs its world-class renditions of some of the most famous classical music ever composed. The Lyric Opera House and CENTERSTAGE are premier destinations for patrons of the theater. The literary arts are glorified by the Peabody and Enoch Pratt libraries as well as the annual Baltimore Book Festival.
Various guided tours of Mount Vernon's architectural and cultural features are popular activities, too, and the nearby Maryland Historical Society offers a further glimpse into local yesteryear. All of these places can be found in Mount Vernon, and that's just a small sample of what's available.
Aside from being a hotbed for the arts, Mount Vernon has commonly been associated with the gay community. Some of Baltimore's most popular gay bars are located there, and it is also the base of operations for Baltimore's yearly Gay Pride Festival. But gay or straight, the neighborhood is a playground for people who want to experience a good time in an artistic, open, laid-back environment.
The character of Mount Vernon is palatably swanky and cool; every bar, club and lounge has its own unique style. Similarly, strolling the sidewalks in the neighborhood on any given day will feature the offbeat, free-spirited styles of residents and students from nearby schools such as the Maryland Institute College of Art and the Peabody Institute. Retail shops, boutiques and restaurants are likewise varied in fashions, cuisine and price range -- you'll find just about any cuisine you want in a stretch of Charles Street densely packed with dining options. Whatever your style, Mount Vernon has a place for you to shop, eat and play.
Location: Central Baltimore City
Boundaries: Mount Royal Avenue to the north, Mulberry Street to the south, Guilford Avenue to the east and Howard Street to the west.
Schools: University of Baltimore, MICA, Peabody Institute, St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, BIC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management School
Landmarks/Highlights: Baltimore Book Festival, Basilica of the Assumption, CENTERSTAGE, The Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute and Cultural Center, Flower Mart, Garrett-Jacobs Mansion, George Peabody Library, Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Lyric Opera House, The Maryland Historical Society, Walters Art Museum, Washington Monument
Trivia: Francis Scott Key, writer of the "Star-Spangled Banner," died in Mount Vernon in 1843.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented the watering holes of Mount Vernon while he was living in Towson, after his wife was hospitalized for schizophrenia in Baltimore.
The Washington Monument in Mount Vernon was designed by the same architect who later designed the more famous Washington Monument in the nation's capital.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times