Westport is a neighborhood in south Baltimore, Maryland. It is bordered by the Middle Branch River on the east, Cherry Hill and Lansdowne to the south, Hollins Ferry Road to the west, and Interstate 95 to the north. The Baltimore Washington Parkway (MD Route 295) runs through the middle of Westport and intersects with I-95, and is along the Westport Baltimore Light Rail Stop, which is one stop from the Camden Yards and Baltimore Ravens stadiums and trendy Federal Hill. Westport is seen as the next neighborhood to boom along Baltimore's prime waterfront.
The neighborhood is mostly brick row homes built in the 1920s. The neighborhood consisted of mostly blue-collar workers who worked at nearby businesses such as the Carr Lowrey Glass Company and the Baltimore Gas and Electric Westport Plant. Over the years, the industrial core of Baltimore faded and many residents moved to the suburbs, leaving neighborhoods like Westport to fall into disrepair. According to an article in the Baltimore's Department of Planning, in 2000, 22% of the homes in Westport were abandoned.
When the Carr Lowrey Glass company went out of business, the 16-acre (65,000 m2) property was purchased by Inner Harbor West LLC for $6.82 million. The prior year, Inner Harbor West LLC purchased the 12-acre (49,000 m2) power plant from Constellation Energy Group. The Carr Lowrey factory was leveled and there are plans for water-front development with a park. Westport has a picturesque view of the historic Hanover Street Bridge and the Baltimore skyline. As a result of the development, housing prices in Westport rose significantly.
In 1985, the Wheelabrator Incinerator, a waste-to-energy plant, was built in Westport, near I-95. The tall white smokestack that reads "Baltimore" in capital letters, is considered a distinctive landmark for motorists traveling on I-95.
The Gwynns Falls Trail runs through Westport along Annapolis Road and along Kloman Rd, which also fronts the future waterfront site along thej Light Rail and connecting to the Middle Branch Parkland and Boathouse Marina.
In the spring of 2011, City officials gave the green light to major city developer, Patrick Turner for future development along its waterfront over the next ten years in phases. Westport was designated a BRAC Zone to attract major employers with many incentives, especially attracting contractors from both military installations at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Ft Meade (Baltimore Development Corporation). The first phase of development is expected to begin in late 2011 and during 2012, with a luxury apartment building being the first of many buildings. The rezoning bill for Westport's main drag on Annapolis Rd went into effect on May 11, 2011, together with the Annapolis Road Urban Renewal Plan (URP), with hopes to add businesses in its existing neighborhood as the waterfront develops. Patrick Turner himself, the City and its very active Westport Neighborhood Association have a lot to do with the neighborhood improvements.
Westport is in the midst of revival independent of the highly anticipated waterfront development. Late Fall of 2012, the Veditz Center of Colorado, has provided for sponsorship from various resources to construct an Art Gallery and Museum. The project is in the planning/design stages and expects to be completed in the Summer of 2013, in time for the American Sign Language Festival. George Veditz was born in Baltimore and this would be a commemoration to him and his contribution to American Sign Language. The Westport Neighborhood Association has partnered with the Veditz Center to promote more inclusiveness with the neighborhood. The hopes are to eventually provide ASL services to deaf and nondeaf youth in the neighborhood and beyond. Even though there were investors that snatched up properties before the financial crisis, they have been reverted back and combatted by the City of Baltimore with an anti-blight program called, "Vacants to Value". Those previous investors who let the homes sit without improving are fined and eventually lose the property and are sold to homeowners who are willing to fix up the abandoned homes. Coupled with this program and more marketing, there has been increasing investment interest in the affordable housing stock by the Deaf Community, as well as younger professionals.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,185 people residing in the neighborhood. The racial makeup of Westport was 9.8% White, 88.8% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% from other races, and 0.7% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.9% of the population. 32.4% of occupied housing units were owner-occupied. 22.0% of housing units were vacant.
The demographics of this neighborhood is expected to have a dramatic change with pending waterfront development within the next few years, which will positively revitalize its existing neighborhood.
34.6% of the population were employed, 17.9% were unemployed, and 47.5% were not in the labor force. The median household income was $16,250. About 45.7% of families and 43.0% of the population were below the poverty line.
This neighborhood was the home town of Al Kaline, who graduated from Southern High School in 1954 and was recruited by the Detroit Tigers for the then-all-time high amount of $35,000.00. Al Kaline also coached the Westport Methodist Baseball League.
Westport is served by Baltimore's Light Rail system with the Westport Station. The Westport stop is just south of the Hamburg Street stop, which serves M&T Bank Stadium, and north of the Cherry Hill stop. The Maryland Transit Administration's bus line also run along Baltimore/Annapolis Boulevard (MD Route 648).
- Westport Neighborhood Association
- Veditz Center of Maryland Inc.
- BRAC Incentives
- Westport Waterfront
- BizJournal Development Article
- Map of Westport, Baltimore