Baltimore Revival: How the City is Cleaning Up

From long city blocks of crumbling, abandoned houses, a new Baltimore is rising from the brunt of the industrial collapse. Funded by state money, nonprofit organizations and private donors, much of the city’s current renaissance is centered around East Baltimore. In addition, state and local governments are actively involved in helping residents throughout the city to improve their homes and communities.

From colorful Victorian row houses to updated music venues and a true restaurant renaissance, “Charm City” is working to honor its history while creating a new authentic vibe. Keep reading to find out how Baltimore is improving its neighborhoods and why Maryland’s biggest city no longer deserves a negative reputation.

Baltimore Housing Revival

The residents of Baltimore are proud of their city’s rich history, and many historic buildings set along cobblestone streets attest to its power to endure. Developers across the city are restoring aging buildings and preserving their history while updating them with new amenities. It is not uncommon to find a home with an original 1900s stone exterior, original beamed ceilings and new, state-of-the-art kitchens and bathrooms.

To help make historic home restorations more affordable, the city began offering the Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) initiative in 1996. This program allows a historically restored property to maintain its current tax assessment rate for 10 years. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development offers these and other programs to help homeowners revive their properties:

  • Maryland Housing Rehabilitation Program
  • Indoor Plumbing Program
  • Special Targeted Applicant Rehabilitation Program
  • Accessible Loans for Seniors
  • Lead Hazard Reduction Grant and Loan Program

Updated Baltimore Neighborhoods

Each of Baltimore’s neighborhoods is known for being a tight-knit community with its own unique personality. Charm City’s housing revival is ongoing, and nearly every neighborhood has several homes with dumpsters out front signifying the residence is being rehabbed. Many Baltimore neighborhoods are already enjoying the fruits of renovation. Here are a few areas of the city that are now thriving.

Harbor East

One of Baltimore’s newest neighborhoods, Harbor East has replaced the industrial warehouses that used to define the area with new recreational options. Home to award-winning international cuisine, boutiques and upscale hotels, Harbor East is more of an entertainment destination than a residential neighborhood. However, it showcases some of the new best attractions the city has to offer and is a favorite destination for residents and tourists alike.

Brewer’s Hill

Named for the landmark breweries that date back to the late 19th century, Brewer’s Hill has been renovated over the last decade. Developers embraced the area’s beer-centric history and turned old buildings into loft apartments, restaurants and shops. Young professionals enjoy calling the “Lager Building” or “Natty Boh Tower” home.

Charles Village

A colorful, iconic part of Baltimore’s landscape, the “Painted Ladies” of Charles Village are the result of a 1990s contest challenging residents to update their Victorian row homes. Although the contest originally drew participants by offering a variety of cash prizes, residents continue to maintain the rainbow landscape that defines their brightly-colored neighborhood.

Baltimore’s Young Cultural Scene

Station North, just north of Penn Station, is Baltimore’s first designated entertainment and arts district. Famous for its murals created through innovative street art projects, Station North is home to Graffiti Alley, the only place in the city where the art form is legal. From galleries, to concerts to stand-up comedy, this area of Baltimore is a young culture hotspot.

Baltimore is home to immigrants from around the world and the city’s arts, music and entertainment scenes reflect their multicultural vibrancy. Little Italy, Greektown and many areas rich with African American history are home to festivals and other cultural celebrations throughout the year. In every area of Baltimore, there are unique music venues, art exhibits and family-owned restaurants serving authentic international flavors.

Up and Coming Neighborhoods in Baltimore

In addition to the updated neighborhoods mentioned above, other areas of Baltimore are seeing a boom in renovations and new development. These up-and-coming neighborhoods can be a good place to get a deal on a short sale or foreclosure and join the city’s restoration efforts.


Located in Northeast Baltimore near Johns Hopkins University Homewood Campus, Remington is home to musicians, artists and other creative Marylanders. Perhaps the most well-known is chef Duff Goldman, owner of the local Charm City Cakes and star of the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes.” Homes in Remington include renovated 100-year-old row houses and affordable investor condos.


Also near Johns Hopkins, Milton-Montford is a neighborhood in transition. Located near the Station East redevelopment, the entire area has seen a boost in renovated homes and renewed green spaces. Residents enjoy having sidewalks for dog-walking and outdoor spaces for children to play. Milton-Montford remains an affordable place to purchase a historic brick row house, either to renovate or already move-in ready.


This North Baltimore transitional neighborhood spans six blocks between Woodbourne and McCabe Avenues. Residents can choose from rowhomes or single-family houses and enjoy easy walking distance to shopping and dining at Belvedere Square. It is also close to the Notre Dame of Maryland campus and Loyola University Maryland. Some of the area’s recent improvements can be attributed to the Vacants to Values redevelopment program and the work of Habitat for Humanity of Chesapeake.

Other Ways Baltimore is Cleaning Up

Baltimore County offers a Community Clean-Up Program that subsidizes the cost of roll-off dumpsters. Communities of 50 households or more may apply for these “dumpster days” to get rid of trash that is not normally picked up by curbside garbage collection services. Funds may be limited, so check the county government’s website frequently for information on how to schedule a clean-up event for your community.

The Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) provides abandoned and vacant property maintenance services, responding to over 40,000 requests each year. Clean-up services include street sweeping, graffiti removal and rat abatement. DPW will also mow high grass and weeds growing on public lots and assist with removing yard waste. The department coordinates community spring and fall clean-ups in four quadrants of the city and can connect residents with other government programs to improve Baltimore’s neighborhoods.