Hampden came to life in 1802 when Baltimore’s mill workers began building homes in the neighborhood. The mills, which operated along the Jones Falls Stream Valley, built Baltimore’s reputation as a port city, sending cotton and flour all along the coast. Subsequently, shops and churches were built to accommodate the workers.
Hampden quickly became an economic center of Baltimore, with one of the largest workforces in America. Baltimore’s mills reached their peak during World Wars I and II, running at full capacity to supply the war effort. The last half of the 20th century saw the demise of the mills, the relocation of their workers to other employment opportunities, and the virtual abandonment of the neighborhood.
Revitalization of Hampden Homes
The brick and stone row houses built for mill workers have been given a new lease on life. The latter portion of the 20th century saw many cities’ downtown areas repurposed for modern living, including historic neighborhoods like Hampden.
Multi-use buildings have sprung up as well as boutique shopping and dining, and subsequently, the row homes of the mid to late 19th century have received facelifts. Many of those boutique businesses operate out of the bottom floors of those row homes. People from all over Baltimore come to Hampden to shop, dine, and relax. "Forbes" has written extensively about Hampden, lauding its “walkability,” coffee houses, food trucks, and the number of bars and restaurants in the area.
Currently, the median sale price for a home in Hampden is in the high $200s. However, prices can vary from the mid $100s to the low $400s.
The Hampden Character
It’s difficult to see a neighborhood’s character until one witnesses its residents at play. Hampden is famous for its "Miracle on 34th Street" celebrations for Christmas. Houses on both sides of the street decorate their homes for the holidays, each striving to out-decorate each other. One amazing house on Roland Street decorates each year in a "The Nightmare Before Christmas" theme. Visitors worldwide travel to Hampden to see the spectacle.
The HonFest is a festival in Hampden when many residents make their hair into a 60s-style beehive. Then, they try to find who has the best “Bawlmerese” accent. Food, music, and dancing among other things make the HonFest an endearing part of calling Charm City home.
Hampden has been used in Jon Waters’ movies like "Pecker" and in books by Hampden’s own Philipp Meyer, including "American Rust." Its quirky, hilarious character can now be enjoyed by everyone.
The Hampden Vibe
Due to new and longstanding residents revitalizing the neighborhood, people from all over visit 36th Street (or The Avenue) to shop and enjoy the aura of the neighborhood. The expansion of the bus lines and the light rail has made it more accessible than ever. Roosevelt Park has received the same facelift, with a new pool and skate park giving residents and visitors a fun time in the historic town.
The vibe here is part tacky and part hip. Groups of residents often pick a spot to hang out to talk. Visitors are warmly welcomed. The art galleries draw a lot of attention, with the food ranging from American fare to Italian, Tex-Mex, and Asian. Baltimore’s sports complexes are a hop and a skip away for a great time at the ballgame. The Inner Harbor, with all its wonders, is also a short jaunt away. Museums, open-air markets, and street festivals are also very common in Hampden.