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August 1, 2021
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Downtown’s Charles Street Promenade is Here to Stay

June 1, 2021

Last October, we teamed up with communities up and down Charles Street to close Baltimore’s most historic thoroughfare to all automobile traffic.

No cars, delivery trucks, or busses for an entire Saturday between Saratoga Street and North Avenue. We wanted to create a better balance between cars and people, even if just for one day. We called it the Charles Street Promenade.

Before the pandemic, this sort of thing would have impossible to pull off. How would customers get to shops if they couldn’t park directly out front? Would residents resent the inconvenience?

But the success of outdoor dining parklets during COVID-19, built where there would normally be on-street parking, opened people’s eyes to the benefits of trading tires for feet.

So, we had an idea that this could work. Our hope was that people who had been cooped up working and going to school from home would come out for some fresh air and safely patronize the dozens of restaurants and shops that desperately needed a boost in business.

Not only did it work, it was an incredible success! People hiked, biked, and scooted. Outdoor cafes were packed and the shops that participated told us they had their best day of sales in more than a year. In post-event surveys people overwhelmingly wanted to do the event again. More than 70% wanted to do it monthly or even weekly!

After a long COVID winter, the time was right to do it all over again and on May 22, with Mayor Scott and a team of neighborhood organizations that included the Central Baltimore Partnership, Charles Street Development Corporation, Guppy Management, Midtown Community Benefits District, Mt. Vernon Belvedere Association, and the Mt. Vernon Place Conservancy, we held the second Promenade.

Like the first, it was so successful, that we’re planning a third event for the fall of 2021 when, with increased vaccination rates, we can make the event even bigger and better!