For as long as anyone remembers, those graceful park strips that separate the east and west roadways along Park Avenue have just been called the Park Avenue medians or parks.
But local historian Fred Shoken has uncovered new information. “The land appears to have been donated to the city as early as 1860, although it is doubtful that any improvements were made for a long time.
“There was a city council ordinance in 1860 for the city to accept the property. It wasn’t unusual for an owner of a property to donate land to the city for a park or square and then develop the land facing the park with high quality residences. That is the case for other squares in West Baltimore,” Shoken last month wrote Lee Tawney, who with Doug Kelso leads BHCA’s Greening Committee.
“The official name of the Park Avenue medians is Park Place,” Shoken said. He said the city finally appropriated money in 1875 for improvements to the space. He noted an 1881 article in the Baltimore Sun describes Park Place as having trees, a fountain, a granite curb on the south end and similar improvements underway for the north park. Today it has traffic lights at each end as well.