Sunday, September 27, 2009

Corner E. Preston and N. Charles

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There are a myriad of reasons that you may find yourself on the corner of E. Preston and N. Charles at any point of the day or night. There are an equal of number of people and an equal number of resulting encounters that you can expect to meet and experience walking up N. Charles from Mt. Royal, making the left across Charles onto E. Preston.

This little bit of the city is so interesting because there are so many destinations within a 1-block radius. This above average number of destinations means that walking through this area you have an above average chance of meeting someone you know or someone who is going to the same place you are going to. While this is a place where you will see many cars, it really is a place intended for pedestrian folk. The majority of cars passing on N. Charles is made up of suit and tie affairs moving back and forth between the downtown skyscrapers and points north of the city. These people may give you a passing glance at a red light while they wait to cross Mt. Royal but by and large you never see them heading to Jerome’s or sitting outside of any of the Restaurants on N. Charles or E. Preston. Aside from the commuters the remaining automobile presence is limited delivery cars and delivery scooters often parked on the sidewalk right next to the tables and chairs. This general lack of parking is a wonderful thing. It means that by and large most people you see at any of these restaurants or heading in and out of the convenience store or liquor store are people from Mt. Vernon, Station North, or if not are probably University of Baltimore, MICA or JHU students. This narrowing of the crowd leads to a stronger sense of community between the individuals frequenting any of the destinations on this corner and raises the odds of a positive encounter.

Living on the edge of Mt. Vernon and Station North I walk or Bike around this corner at least twice everyday on my way to and from MICA campus buildings on Mt. Royal and North Ave. For me passing this corner is a kind of routine/ritual. I have become familiar with the fluctuating rhythms of people and traffic that flow around this corner and how these flows change throughout the day and week.

In the morning traffic is moderate on N. Charles as people will likely use St. Paul to access downtown areas while E. Preston has slightly high traffic as people move from points East of Guilford into the city. Pedestrians on mornings are scarce or moving quickly on E. Preston, however there are exceptions where people have stopped to get coffee at either Starbucks or XS. Mid afternoon sees slightly more pedestrians on N. Charles with a spike during lunch. The Traffic increases drastically on both E. Preston and N. Charles after 5:00PM as people rush to leave the city. Following the rush there is a similar surge of pedestrian traffic as the Bars and restaurants open for dinner. Finally evening brings probably the most interesting mix of traffic and pedestrian populations. There are almost always people gathered outside of Jerome’s Mr. Tony in his wheelchair conversing with anyone and employees of Nino’s smoking cigarettes or arguing with the delivery drivers. Dionysus puts out tables and chairs on good nights which gathers a good size crowd almost always. Around the corner Kebab Place is open till 10 or 11 and does well even this late. And further down you have Turps and XS which draw in the college crowd especially on the weekends. All and all this is a very interesting corner at any hour and one worth visiting.

(Note this picture was taken Sunday afternoon.)

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