Belair-Edison is a neighborhood in the Northeastern part of Baltimore, Maryland, United States. It is located along Harford and Bel Air Roads, above Sinclair Lane, bounded on its eastern and northern side by Herring Run Park. It is a predominantly residential neighborhood with houses that range from middle class to lower income.
Originally Belair-Edison was part of Baltimore County until the annexation of 1888 when the southwestern portion became part of the city. In 1918 the rest of the area was annexed to Baltimore.
Belair-Edison was previously known as Georgetown in the mid-19th century. It was named after three prominent citizens of the area: George Brehm, George Lamley, and George Erdman. Georgetown was well known for its numerous breweries. George Brehm owned the largest of these breweries.
George Brehm procured Neisendorfer’s Brewery in 1866 and renamed it Brehm’s Brewery. The brewery was located at modern day Brehms and Bowleys Lane. At the time, the brewery was the largest employer in Georgetown. In 1899 Brehm sold his brewery for $400,000 to the Maryland Brewing Company. Two years later he bought it back for just $185,000. He died in 1904 and his son Henry took over the business. Henry expanded the brewery in 1907 by building a new brewhouse and storage house. During Prohibition, the brewery survived by producing sodas and resumed full beer production in 1933. In 1935 the Burton Brewing Company purchased the brewery and five years later went out of business.
The majority of Belair-Edison’s buildings were built during the Baltimore building boom of the 1920s. According to US census data, there were only 36 dwellings built in the area before 1899 and only 102 dwellings by 1919. By 1940 there were over 1,700 dwellings in the area. Many of these dwellings were designed and built by Frank Novak and Joseph Peters. Novak was the son of Bohemian immigrants and began as a carpenter’s apprentice at the age of 13. In 1914 he established the Frank Novak Realty Company. Until his death in 1945, he was known as the “Two Story King of Baltimore” for his two story porch front homes. Kavon Avenue (Novak spelled backwards) is named in honor of Novak. Conveniently located in Baltimore City, a 15-minute drive to downtown, and just minutes from I-95, Belair-Edison boasts the most green space of any neighborhood in Baltimore City neighborhood, with 300-acre Herring Run Park running through the neighborhood to the along the north side of the neighborhood, Lake Montebello to the west, and Clifton Park to the southwest.
Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc.: Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc. (BENI) is a nonprofit community-based organization that works to foster an environment where residents, business owners, and stakeholders feel confident to invest their time, energy, and money. They are a Healthy Neighborhoods and Baltimore Main Streets partner organization, as well as a HUD certified comprehensive housing counseling agency. Their office is a lively hub of neighborhood activities and services. Whether you want to buy a house, renovate your current one or throw the best block party ever, they are here to help you make it happen. For more information on Belair-Edison Neighborhoods, Inc. log onto http://www.belair-edison.org/ or call 410-485-8422.
Belair-Edison Community Association:
The Belair-Edison Community Association (BECA) are a non-profit, volunteer-based organization made up of individuals who reside in the community. Meetings are held at 6:30 PM, on the first Tuesday of each month, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library located at 3801 Erdman Ave.
St. Ambrose Housing Aid: St. Ambrose is dedicated to restoring and strengthening the Belair-Edison community by purchasing foreclosed properties, renovating them to top market standards, and selling these beautiful homes to happy homeowners. Their renovated homes help to establish and maintain high standards in the neighborhood, and encourage neighborhood homeowners to make necessary repairs to their homes in an effort to maintain the integrity and value of the community.
The Green School http://www.thegreenschoolofbaltimore.org/ AFYA Public Charter School http://www.afyabaltimore.org/afya/ Herring Run Park http://thefhrp.org/ Lake Montebello Clifton Park http://www.bmgcgolf.com/ Morgan Community Mile http://morgancommunitymile.com/ Enoch Pratt Free Library http://www.prattlibrary.org/locations/herringrun/ Blue Water Baltimore http://www.bluewaterbaltimore.org/ Main Street http://www.belair-edison.org/tour-belair-edison/local-businesses/
Belair-Edison is often cited as an example of failed government relocation programs. In these programs attempts are made to forcefully integrate low income families with middle income families as a way to integrate and help lower income families form social bonds not possible in housing projects. Former Mayor of Baltimore Kurt Schmoke led the charge to demolish high rise projects in Baltimore and moved many former housing project residents into Belair-Edison throughout the early/mid-90s. This led to a mass exodus of middle income families out of the neighborhood and the city in general. Ultimately, these failed public policies led to the demise of the Northeast part of the city and many once thriving local parochial schools closed down. The Mayor should not be held solely at fault however, Thompson v. HUD (1994) essentially forced the government to forcefully integrate the neighborhood which failed miserably as the area is now almost exclusively African-American.
Other critics are quick to point out the role of slumlords in the decline of neighborhoods like Belair-Edison. The majority of blame has been placed squarely on investor schemes led by Gary Waicker. Waicker, and his companies Cavalier Realty, Monopoly Realty, and Investment Realty Specialists, pushed many investors into buying homes in the Belair-Edison neighborhood and promising to rent them to tenants receiving section 8 housing vouchers. Many of these slumlords were criticized for their disregard for neighborhood quality of life.
While crime continues to increase throughout the country, let alone the city of Baltimore, Belair-Edison’s crime rate per 1000 residents is lower than Baltimore’s but because it is one of the larger neighborhoods in the City it appears to be a higher crime area because crime statistics are reported by neighborhood rather than per capita in the media.
- 2000 Census Data
- Holcomb, Eric, The City as a Suburb: A history of Northeast Baltimore since 1660. Center for American Places, Inc, 2005, p. 74
- Holcomb, Eric, The City as a Suburb: A history of Northeast Baltimore since 1660. Center for American Places, Inc, 2005, p. 63
- Holcomb, Eric, The City as a Suburb: A history of Northeast Baltimore since 1660. Center for American Places, Inc, 2005, p. 75
- Holcomb, Eric, The City as a Suburb: A history of Northeast Baltimore since 1660. Center for American Places, Inc, 2005
- City Paper Story on Kurt Schmoke Archived November 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- SLF Alumni News Archived March 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Analysis of Thompson v. HUD
- City Paper Article: Blockbuster Archived May 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.