ⓘ Roland Park, Baltimore

Roland Park, Baltimore

ⓘ Roland Park, Baltimore

Roland Park is the first planned "suburban" community in North America, located in Baltimore, Maryland. It was developed between 1890 and 1920 as an upper-class streetcar suburb. The early phases of the neighborhood were designed by Edward Bouton and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr.


1. History

Jarvis and Conklin, a Chicago investment firm, purchased 500 acres 200 ha of land near Lake Roland in 1891 and founded the Roland Park Company with $1 million in capital. Not long after, the Panic of 1893 forced Jarvis and Conklin to sell the Roland Park Company to the firm of Stewart and Young. Despite the dire economics after 1893, Stewart and Young continued investment in the development.

The Roland Park Company hired Kansas City developer Edward H. Bouton as the general manager and George Edward Kessler to lay out the lots for the first tract. They hired the Olmsted Brothers to lay out the second tract, and installed expensive infrastructure, including graded-streets, gutters, sidewalks, and constructed the Lake Roland Elevated Railroad. The company consulted George E Waring, Jr. to advise them on the installation of a sewer system. Bouton placed restrictive covenants on all lots in Roland Park. These included setback requirements and proscriptions against any business operations. Bouton and the Roland Park Company initially intended to include covenants to exclude blacks from the development, but on advice of counsel did not include them in the deeds. The Roland Park Company would later insert these covenants into deeds in Guilford, Homeland and Northwood.

It was a modern development, electricity for lighting throughout the neighborhood as well gas for cooking and lighting. Water came from artesian wells dug up to 500 feet 150 m, nearly 50.000 feet 15.000 m of water mains were constructed, in addition to 50.000 feet 15.000 m of roadways, and 100.000 feet 30.000 m of sidewalks.

Bouton and some Baltimore investors purchased the interests of Roland Park and reorganized the company in 1903.

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. cited Roland Park as a model residential subdivision to his Harvard School of Design students. Duncan McDuffie, developer of St. Francis Wood in San Francisco, called Roland Park "an ideal residential district." Jesse Clyde Nichols had found inspiration in Roland Park when he was planning the Country Club District of Kansas City. Nichols continued to refer to Roland Park as an ideal residential development when he counselled other residential developers.


2. Roland Park Shopping Center

Roland Park Shopping Center is a single building strip of stores which opened in 1907 to serve the community, located at the corner of Upland Road and Roland Avenue. It has been credited by Guinness World Records as the worlds first shopping center though some editions of Guinness incorrectly date it to 1896. Since it had only six stores, despite it being an important milestone, larger shopping centers such as the Country Club Plaza 1923 in Kansas City, Missouri have received more attention as being "first," depending on what definition is used.


3. Education

The neighborhood is within the bounds of Baltimore City Public Schools and is assigned to Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, a K-8 school that earned the Blue Ribbon for Academic Excellence from the state department of education in 1997 and 1998.

There are several private schools in the neighborhood: Friends School of Baltimore, Gilman School, Roland Park Country School, the Bryn Mawr School, Cathedral School, and Boys Latin School of Maryland. In addition, St. Marys Seminary and University is located in Roland Park.

There is also a branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Roland Park.


4. Transportation

The Baltimore Light Rails Cold Spring Lane Station is within walking distance of much of the neighborhood, just across the Jones Falls Expressway to the west.

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