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From Duckpins to Decay, With Cocktails

Legend has it that duckpin bowling originated in Baltimore in 1900, with two Baltimore Orioles players who owned a bowling, billiards, and pool hall. (New research claims it was developed about a decade earlier.) There was a time - in the 1950’s and 60’s - when duckpin bowling was all the rage. Now duckpin alleys are few and far between.

Our first stop will be at the oldest operating duckpin alley in the country, opened in 1927. We’ll have access not only to the bowling lanes, but also behind the scenes - where we can photograph the 1940’s machinery that makes it all work. This is classic Baltimore, and it will be fun to shoot.

From there it’s a 10-minute ride to a very unique site. This outdoor shopping mall has been a market site since the early 1800’s. Baltimore Heritage notes three architectural categories at the mall: row house shops dating to the 1820’s, Victorian stores from the 1870’s, and newer styles - such as Art Deco - from the 20th century. The two blocks that make up the mall were closed to traffic in 1968 to create a pedestrian walkway, as part of a federal urban renewal project.

The renewal project failed badly. What remains is a ghost town, just a few blocks from downtown Baltimore. One block is completely boarded up and decayed; the other - longer - block has just a very few stores still open amidst the decay and abandonments. And yet… there are new windows in a few of the buildings, and pickup trucks parked in front while work goes on inside. The former Kaufman’s department store is now a haunted house (open only in October). This is a strange, spooky site that is ripe for redevelopment - but not before we get some great photographs.

Our final stop will be at Old Line Spirits, which opened in the Highlandtown neighborhood in February 2017, though its owners - both former Navy pilots - spent considerable time beforehand learning the art and craft of distilling whiskey and rum. Baltimore Magazine awarded it “best distillery” in 2018, and one of the owners will give us a tour of the facility, after which we’ll settle into the new cocktail bar to sample the goods. (Note that the price of cocktails is not included in the cost of the photo tour.)

You’re registered when you’ve paid:

The cost is $85. You’ll need to fill out a liability waiver, which I’ll send you as well as the address of our first location. No refunds unless we cancel (though you can transfer your spot to someone else).

Because there is ample parking at all three locations, you are free to use your own vehicles. Addresses and directions will be provided for all three sites.

Earlier Event: June 21
The Great Arabber Tour II