Baltimore has a long history and is still home to many centuries-old landmarks. Throughout the years, many iconic Baltimore businesses and attractions have closed to make way for new people and buildings. Although many life-long Baltimoreans over a certain age still remember these places vividly, newer and younger residents may not know much about the city’s quirky past. Keep reading to discover what Baltimore was like in years gone by, and see if you remember any of Charm City’s gone—but never forgotten—landmarks.
Hutzler’s Department Store
German-Jewish peddler Moses Hutzler and his son Abram founded the legendary Baltimore retailer in 1858. Originally a single storefront at the corner of Howard and Clay Streets, Hutzler’s expanded through the decades. It became known in the early 20th century as a place where shoppers could spend an entire day, with an in-house restaurant, beauty parlor and shoeshine department.
In the early 1930s, Hutzler’s installed Baltimore’s first escalator, and by the mid-1950s, the retailer had expanded to the suburbs. It was innovative for its time due to offering a one-price policy, a liberal returns policy and having a fleet of delivery trucks. The eventual decline of downtown business forced Hutzler’s to close in 1990 after 132 years in business.
Baltimore racing fans came out in droves to share memories when the Dorsey Speedway was demolished in 2010. For decades, crowds flocked to the evening races at Dorsey Speedway and Westport Stadium. Popular in the 1950s, race fans recall consuming grilled hot dogs, corn on the cob and cold sodas as the racecars zipped by. Fire trucks and ambulances stood by in case the cars crashed, and hoarse fans went home covered in dust kicked up by the speeding tires.
Located in Highlandtown, this Baltimore landmark opened in 1926 and served Baltimore crab cakes, seafood and homemade pies for 73 years before its closing in 1999. Opened by art collector William Henry Haussner and his wife, Frances, the restaurant was known for its huge collection of fine art. Over 100 pieces hung on the walls, some important works by 19th century American and European masters.
The Haussners’ art collection included sculptures, china, Roman emperors’ busts and pieces from the estates of Cornelius Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan. The entire collection was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York City for $10 million after the restaurant closed. Not all of the Haussners’ art was fit for Sotheby’s, however. The restaurant’s self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Ball of String” was made from the strings used to bundle napkins and weighed a hefty 825 pounds. It sold for over $8,000 to an antique dealer who vowed to keep it in Baltimore.
Old Memorial Stadium
Also known as the “Old Gray Lady of 33rd Street,” Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium was home to the Orioles, Colts and Ravens through its 75-year history. It also hosted several home football games for the University of Maryland and was home for two Baltimore North American Soccer League teams, the Bays and the Comets.
The sports venue is also remembered for two freak accidents that occurred there. A locked gate trapped a group of schoolchildren on an escalator in May 1964, killing one child and injuring 46 more. In December 1976 a small private airplane crashed into the stadium just minutes after an NFL playoff game ended. The pilot was later charged with reckless flying, littering and making a bomb threat against former Colts linebacker Bill Pennington. A plaque dedicated to those killed in the first and second World Wars was salvaged from the stadium’s demolition in February 2002. It now sits outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Before Uber Eats and pizza delivery, other companies delivered food to Charm City’s residents. Until the 1970s, Baltimoreans could have fresh-baked goods delivered straight to their door from Rice’s Bakery. Most famous for its Louisiana Ring Cake (whose recipe went to the grave with owner Emory Rice), the bakery would leave fresh rolls, pies and other goods in wooden boxes on front porches and stoops.
The Enchanted Forest amusement park was located in Ellicott City, just east of Baltimore, and a favorite family escape for city dwellers. It was the state’s first theme park and ranked after Disneyland for being the nation’s oldest theme park. It opened on Monday, August 15, 1955. Admission fees were $1 for adults and 50 cents for children.
The park featured statues of nearly every fairy tale figure imaginable, including The Three Bears, Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Little Pigs and Snow White. These statues are now sought-after collector’s items. Enchanted Forest closed in 1988. Although a portion of the park remains behind the dragon-guarded gate, it is off-limits to visitors.
Cloverland Farms Dairy
Baltimore residents who lived their childhoods between the 1940s and 1981 may remember taking a trip to milk cows at the Cloverland Farms Milk Barn off Dance Mill Road. At its peak, three to four thousand kids visited every week to learn where milk came from. It was the first time many city children ever set foot on a farm. Owner Ralph Kemp is quoted as stating that children often believed that chocolate milk came from brown cows until they saw the process in person.
Bluesette Teen Discotheque
Located on North Charles Street in a converted row house, the Bluesette was a non-alcoholic nightclub that featured live local bands. Although it only operated from 1965 to 1972, it is remembered as being a significant part of the city’s youth culture during that time. Plenty of older Baltimoreans have fun memories of hanging out at the Bluesette on Friday and Saturday nights, drinking near-beer and dancing to bands including The Psychedelic Propellers and The Urch Perch.
Sherman’s Book Store
Abe Sherman was a gruff WWII veteran who opened a legendary bookstore in Baltimore after the war. Known for yelling at his customers, many Baltimoreans remember Sherman demanding, “Are you buying or reading? If you wanna read, go to the library!” It was not unheard-of for customers to be thrown out of the store for browsing too long, not reshelving books properly or even standing too close to the magazines. However, Sherman was fondly remembered for learning his regular customers’ interests and catering to them. It was also Baltimore’s top place to purchase psychedelic black-light posters and hippie buttons during the 1970s.
Pimlico Hotel Restaurant
Baltimore’s Pimlico Hotel Restaurant made a name for itself from 1951 through 1991 for its vast menu and enormous egg rolls. Considered an innovative fine dining experience in its time, it was a favorite gathering spot for elite Baltimoreans to celebrate anniversaries and other special occasions. During its 40 years of operation, it was frequented by sports figures, politicians and celebrities including Frank Sinatra and Liza Minelli.