May 1, 2011

Baltimore May Day Roll bike ride

As my friend Lyle pointed out, today was May Day. While she's correct that the majority of U.S. citizens probably aren't even aware of this holiday, 40 or so folks did celebrate the day with a tour of 19th-20th century industrial Baltimore-- the annual May Day Roll.  

We started out appropriately enough at the Baltimore Bicycle Works, "Baltimore's only worker owned and operated bike shop" which is located right around the corner from Jack Yates' ghost bike.  The ride was sponsored by the BBW, and led by the Baltimore Brew's Mark Reutter, who provided the historical commentary.

We headed from there up Falls Road in the direction of Hampden, but turned off at the old Mount Vernon Mill Company.   

A few twists and turns through the old houses of the 1800s milltown brought us to the home of Elisha Tyson, an industrialist and abolitionist who was apparently responsible for the freeing of several hundred slaves in pre-Civil War Maryland.  

A swift spin down and into town brought us to Red Emma's bookstore & coffeehouse, whose collective business model helped to inspire the BBW.

From there we meandered further east towards Fells Point, stopping along the way in the alley of Dallas Street to admire both the row homes built by Frederick Douglass after his escape from slavery and a bit of true Bawl'mer.

One of the five homes built by Douglass.  The marble inset reads 'Douglass House'.
This is Baltimore.
Next up was what's left of the controversial St. Stanislaus Church.  The church has been empty and up for sale for years, and the proposed condos for which the parish hall was demolished have yet to be built (though they're apparently now promised for this coming summer).

The highlight of both last and this year's ride was being able to ride through the decrepit Crown Cork and Seal Company.  Today's most fascinating trivia tidbit:  The modern day bottle cap was invented in Baltimore.  Stop and think about that the next time you jerk the cap off a cold one and toss it in the trash.

The last stop was lunch in Greektown at Ikaros.  No photos there, for which I'm sorry.  I definitely should've taken a shot of the gorgeous platter of pastichio, potatoes, green beans, dolmades, and spanikopita that was placed before me.  Of all the many cool sights on the ride, it was truly one of the prettiest. 

Folks headed off in separate directions after lunch, leaving only a handful of us to spin back up across town to BBW through scattered rain drops.  Normally, I'd bemoan the lack of sunshine on a day like this, but the ride was so interesting and fun that I didn't miss it.  The greyness of the sky actually contributed an appropriately gritty atmosphere for a tour of industrial B'more.      

Full set of photos here, and a re-cap of the ride at Baltimore Brew.


Monya said...

Cool and interesting. I'm passing this idea on to pp in Jersey City.

KaliDurga said...

Between Jersey City and Hoboken, that couldd be a very cool ride. How's the traffic in those areas for bikes? That was something I didn't pay attention to when you drove me around.

Story teller said...

Growing up May day was a holiday. I worked through it this year.

KaliDurga said...

So we celebrated in recognition of your labors!