The Y in Druid Hill: a hidden gem for Bolton Hill residents

Walking distance

Looking for a modern, well-managed and welcoming place to exercise that you can walk to from Bolton Hill? Located at 1609 Druid Hill Avenue, the Y in Druid Hill can be reached by walking three short blocks west of Eutaw Place on McMechen Street to Druid Hill Avenue. Take a right on Druid Hill Avenue and you are there. (For drivers, there is off-street parking across the street.)

The facility, opened over 100 years ago, served Baltimore’s Black community during segregation, and was the only place where African-Americans could swim indoors during the Jim Crow era. Many of the community’s famous residents, including Cab Calloway and Thurgood Marshall, learned to swim there. Its present location was made possible by a lead matching gift of $25,000 from Julius Rosenwald of Sears and Roebuck, best known for the “Rosenwald Schools” he financed in southern states.

A recent tour of the Y revealed a completely updated facility thanks to renovation work completed in 2019. It has all the equipment–weightlifting, resistance machines and cardio equipment–comparable to what you find at the 33rd Street Weinberg YMCA. The difference is that the Y in Druid Hill is underutilized, so there is less waiting for access to the equipment. Its smaller size and super-friendly staff make it feel more intimate. The only drawback is for swimmers: the pool can accommodate water aerobics but is too small for lap swimming.

The Y’s schedule of programs can be found at There are two aerobics studios per week for seniors from 9 -10 a.m. on Monday and Wednesday. Facility hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, and closed Sunday.

There are a variety of membership fees for all ages. Annual membership rates for seniors (65+) are $54 for a single person and $82 for a family. For persons aged 27-64 the single rate is $60, and the family rate is $106 (up to four adults). Teens and young adults 13-26 can join for $43 annually. Lastly, there is a $90 rate for a two-person household. For further information on membership contact DeAndre Shearin at or on 410-889-9622.

– John Leith-Tetrault