Hampden


About Federal Hill, Baltimore City
Baltimore has in recent years embraced certain aspects of old Hampden's traditional culture. Many of Hampden's transplanted residents have also found clever ways to profit from it. The neighborhood is home to the annual "Hon Festival" (also called HonFest) and named after the term "Hon," a term of endearment used by residents of Hampden about as often as residents of Dundalk. HonFest features attendees who tease their hair into the enormous beehive hairdos of the 1960s. The festival also features a contest to find the best "Bawlmerese," a variation of Baltimore's unique traditional accent. This accent is also more commonplace in areas like Dundalk and Essex.

Hampden's 34th Street near the southern end of the neighborhood celebrates the Christmas holiday every year with the "Miracle on 34th Street" where home owners on both sides of the street decorate their houses with thousands of lights and Christmas decorations, attracting visitors from all over the world to see the spectacle. Hampden resident sometimes refer to it as the "Nightmare on 34 Street," as well, due to the profound effect that it has on Hampden's typically easy going traffic patterns.



Neighborhood Map


Neighborhood Photos



History of Federal Hill, Baltimore City
Hampden was originally settled as a residential community for workers at the mills that had sprung up along the Jones Falls; its first residents were in place well before the area was annexed to Baltimore City in 1889. Many of its residents came to the area from the hill country of Kentucky, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, due to the abundance of jobs the mills provided. This influx cemented the image of the neighborhood for the decades that followed as both primarily white and working-class.

Beginning in the early 1990s, the neighborhood (conveniently located vis-a-vis Johns Hopkins and downtown) was discovered by artists and other bohemians, who began the process of gentrification. Many new residents were attracted by the creation of an artist studio and office space known as the Mill Centre, located in the southernmost region of Hampden between Falls Road and Mill Road. 

Over the past decade, housing prices in Hampden have skyrocketed and the area's commercial center on a four-block stretch of West 36th Street, known as The Avenue, has seen trendy boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, a yoga studio, an upscale winebar, and assorted specialty shops occupy storefronts that had been either vacant or in a state of disrepair.