Westport is a neighborhood in south Baltimore, Maryland. Westport is a majority African American neighborhood that has struggled with crime, housing abandonment, and unemployment in the past decade. The neighborhood is bordered by the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River on the east, the city neighborhoods of Cherry Hill, Brooklyn and the southwestern Baltimore County community of Lansdowne to the southwest, Hollins Ferry Road and the Mount Winans and Lakeland neighborhoods to the west, and Interstate 95 to the north, along with the South Baltimore communities of Federal Hill and Otterbein. The Baltimore-Washington Parkway (Maryland Route 295 - formerly Interstate 295) runs through the middle of Westport and intersects with Interstate 95, the main East Coast super-highway, north to south, Maine to Florida.
The neighborhood is mostly brick row homes built in the 1920s with small front porches of the "Daylight" style. The neighborhood consisted of mostly blue-collar workers who worked at nearby businesses which faced the waterfront of the Middle Branch and Ferry Branch (formerly the colonial "Ridgley's Cove") of the Baltimore Harbor and Patapsco River such as the Carr Lowrey Glass Company and the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company's Westport Generating Plant. A railroad bridge trestle for the old Western Maryland Railway and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad to their Locust Point terminals in South Baltimore crossed the Middle Branch and runs east and west through the community. Over the years, the industrial core of Baltimore faded and many residents moved to the suburbs, leaving neighborhoods like Westport to fall into disrepair. Despite a concrete re-paving of the main commercial street of Old Annapolis Road and a planting of rows of new shade trees in the early 1970s, numerous businesses, branch banks and other stores and shops closed, including a branch library of the Enoch Pratt Free Library at Old Annapolis and Waterview Avenue. According to an article in the Baltimore's Department of Planning, in 2000, 22% of the homes in Westport were abandoned.
When the long-time industrial leader in its field, the Carr Lowrey Glass Company closed and 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 had also purchased the 12-acre (49,000 m2) old B. G. & E. power plant from its holding company, Constellation Energy Group. The Carr Lowrey factory was leveled and there are plans for water-front development with a waterfront park and promenade access. Westport has a picturesque view to the east of the concrete spans of the 1914-1917 historic Hanover Street Bridge and the Baltimore downtown skyline to the northeast. As a result of the potential development, housing prices in Westport rose significantly in anticipation of becoming "the Next Canton".
In 1985, the Wheelabrator Incinerator, a waste-to-energy plant, was built on the northwestern shore of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River in Westport, near Interstate 95. The tall white smokestack that reads "Baltimore" in capital letters, is considered a distinctive landmark for motorists traveling on I-95.
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 in Harford County, Maryland and Fort George G. Meade in northern Anne Arundel County (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 Road 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.
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 site of the old Westport Stadium, a baseball grounds used by various Negro Leagues professional baseball teams, the Baltimore Black Sox and the Baltimore Elite Giants. Located near Old Annapolis Road (Maryland Route 648) and Waterview Avenue, until the routing and construction in the early 1950s which split the community of Westport for the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, (Interstate 295), going north into downtown via Russell Street. Westport was also the "home town" neighborhood of Al Kaline, who graduated from South Baltimore's Southern High School near Federal Hill in 1954 and was recruited by the Detroit Tigers for the then-all-time high amount of $35,000.00. Al Kaline also earlier coached the Westport Methodist Baseball League. At that time, local Baltimore businessmen made a deal with the American League and had just purchased its St. Louis Browns franchise in November 1953 to become the new Baltimore Orioles who played their first game in the city, April 1954.
Westport is served by Baltimore's north to south (Hunt Valley to BWI Airport and Glen Burnie) Light Rail system with the Westport Station. The Westport stop is just south of the Hamburg Street stop, which serves M&T Bank Stadium in the Camden Yards sports complex, and north of the Cherry Hill stop further south. The Maryland Transit Administration's bus lines also run along the Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard (or Old Annapolis Road) (Maryland Route 648).
- Westport Neighborhood Association
- BRAC Incentives
- Westport Waterfront
- BizJournal Development Article
- Map of Westport, Baltimore