Entering the Automobile Age: The Horseless Revolution
Mount Vernon Cultural Walk
As demand for automobiles increased, first among the wealthy, dealerships opened in Mount Vernon, and Mount Royal Avenue became “automobile row.” By 1920, fifty dealerships were located in Baltimore, with twenty-two along Mount Royal Avenue.
Since its opening in 1880s, Mount Royal Avenue has evolved to accommodate the changing times in Baltimore and the nation. Designed to connect Mount Vernon to Druid Hill Park, the Avenue boasted terraced parks that beautified the Jones Falls and welcomed train passengers at nearby Mount Royal and Pennsylvania stations. The Avenue’s beauty attracted several important institutions: Bryn Mawr School for Girls (1885), the Lyric Theater (1892), Corpus Christi Church (1891), and the Maryland Institute College of Art (1908). In addition, the B&O Railroad opened the Mount Royal Station in 1896.
Later in the 20th century, significant changes occurred in the area including the decline of automobile dealerships and the arrival of the University of Baltimore in the 1950s. In 1968 the Maryland Institute rehabilitated the Mount Royal B&O Railroad Station and solidified the area as a center for arts and culture. On nearby Preston Street, the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, designed by world renowned architect Pietro Belluschi,
(Inscription under the image in the upper center)
The first automobile customers were wealthy men bent on speed. In 1906, 700 automobile owners lived in the city; in 1940 175,000 automobiles were registered within the Baltimore area.
(Inscriptions under the images on the right)
(1st image)-Not legible.
(2nd image)-Not legible.
(3rd image)-Mount Royal Station, built in 1896 by the B&O Railroad, welcomed visitors to Baltimore with a cozy interior backended by grand fireplaces. In 1964, the station was sold to the Maryland Institute College of Art who restored and renovated the building for classroom and gallery space. This award-winning rehabilitation helped to usher in the late 20th century phenomenon of ‘adaptive use’ a process of recycling grand old architecture into exciting modern spaces.
(4th image)-Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981) was born to Italian parents living in Connecticut. At the age of 18, she launched her career at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and became the first American-born singer to play a major role at the Met. In 1937, she moved to Baltimore shortly after marrying Carle A. Jackson. In 1950, Ponselle became the Baltimore Opera Company’s artistic director, transforming it from an amateur group of singers to a professional group performing at the Lyric OperaHouse.
(5th image)-The Garage, on the northwest corner of Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenues, was one of Baltimore’s first automobile showcases, selling locally and nationally manufactured cars. In the 1950s, the University of Baltimore converted the building into its academic center.
(Inscription above the image at the lower bottom)
Early Automobile Historical Facts:
*In 1904, the speed limit in Baltimore City was six miles an hour. In 1906, the speed limit was increased to 12 miles an hour.
*In 1906, the first automobile show was opened; 130 automobiles were on display.
*Between 1904 and 1919, Maryland’s Traffic Court tried 12,975 men and only 25 women.
*Electric cars and trucks were very popular in Baltimore during the 1920s. These trucks, propelled with twenty electric batteries, had a range of forty-five miles.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Railroads & Streetcars • Roads & Vehicles.
Location. 39° 18.325′ N, 76° 36.959′ W. Marker is in Downtown in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is at the intersection of Mount Royal Avenue and North Charles Street on Mount Royal Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Baltimore MD 21201, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 9/11 Memorial Garden (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Credits. This page was last revised on April 17, 2020. It was originally submitted on April 17, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 162 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 17, 2017, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.