Hampden & Wyman Park Professional Review and Guide
"Some locals will roll their eyes and mutter about the overplayed and commercialized Hon phenomenon. Others will lament that this once pure form of Baltimore hospitality has been so often parodied that it’s lost its meaning. For those not in the know, Hon is the ubiquitous and indigenous Baltimore term of endearment. That traditional greeting, as in “Hey, Hon,” has typified this corner of Baltimore for generations. It conjures up old ladies with beehive hairdos and cat’s-eye glasses, an easy mark for parody. However, let’s not forget that it also signifies a sincere warmth. You’re never a stranger in Hampden, not when you’re called “hon.” The annual Honfest, held on Hampden’s main strip every June, and a public dispute over copyrights to the word itself, have thrust the term and all that goes with it into the spotlight. It has led many to mourn an earlier, simpler time, when Hampden was more like . . . well, Hampden. True, if you grew up here even 20 years ago and hadn’t been back since, you would probably not recognize the place. But not all progress is bad. Though glorified as a center of Baltimore kitsch, Hampden has certainly had its recent problems. The disappearance of many blue-collar manufacturing jobs meant hard times for this neighborhood, but a renewal along 36th St. has brought not a wave of crass gentrification, but a status as one of Baltimore’s most eclectic and interesting areas. Yes, the Hons are still here, but now, so it seems, is everyone else. On this walk, take in the new face of Hampden, plus some of the very old and a bit of neighboring Wyman Park as well."