Old Town Mall – Baltimore, Maryland - Atlas Obscura

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Old Town Mall

Once a thriving business district, this former shopping area is now an urban ghost town in the heart of the city.  


Constructed in 1818, this outdoor shopping district has seen many periods of decline and revival and decline again. At its peak of 64 stores, Old Town (also known as Gay Street) was a thriving retail area designed to increase commercial purpose in the surrounding area. The market transformed the area into a diverse, middle-class neighborhood, making it an ideal neighborhood for families and downtown workers with its proximity to the Inner Harbor of Baltimore

After the post-war era pushed families to suburban areas, the population dwindled and Old Town became one of the poorest areas in Baltimore. With decreased customers, many of the shops were forced to close or adapt to changes. 

After the Baltimore Riot of 1968, the City of Baltimore attempted to revamp the mall by turning the area into a pedestrian-only zone, renaming it Old Town Mall. The city spent well over $1,000,000 on the project, even adding a large fountain in the center and an art-deco clock tower at the entrance. 

By the 1980s, the area had fallen back into its disarray due to poverty and unemployment in the surrounding area that the city failed to fix. Today, the mall has only one shop running and many of the other buildings are closed, abandoned, or completely destroyed. However, the clock tower is now known as the Baltimore City Fire Museum. 

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