Roland Park Professional Review and Guide
"Roland Park is in some respects the perfect “suburban” neighborhood. Of course, after Roland Park’s annexation to Baltimore City in 1918, it isn’t really a suburban neighborhood at all, but rather one of those glorious North Baltimore urban neighborhoods that clings tenaciously to its country feel. Originally conceived as a streetcar suburb linked to downtown by the rail line, it today retains that far-flung, world-apart feel, an oasis of beauty with winding, tree-lined streets and secret pathways that just scream for ambling, moseying, exploring. The Roland Park Company developed Roland Park between 1890 and 1920 from the acquisition of two large bordering estates. The original plans laid out two plats, the first designed by George Kessler, a famed architect associated with the City Beautiful movement. City Beautiful emphasized physical beauty—flowers, streams, rolling hills, structures that worked with the landscape instead of against it—as a means of creating better and more civil societies. The famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. designed Plat 2 and carried the City Beautiful mantle. As the 20th century arrived, Roland Park expanded to include four more plats, laying out the neighborhood boundaries as they are today. The 1893 Lake Roland Elevated Railway allowed residents to make a direct trip to City Hall downtown. The addition of the country’s first strip mall made Roland Park a self-sustaining enclave where upper-middle-class Baltimoreans could enjoy the best of their neighborhood. From the beginning, residents were required to pay levies designed for no other purpose than the continued maintenance and ongoing beautification of the neighborhood. They’re called Homeowners’ Associations today, of course, but in the late 19th century, it was a novel idea. What’s wonderful about Roland Park today is that it hasn’t lost one iota of its charm. Indeed, it is little surprise that well over a hundred years since the neighborhood’s inception, Roland Park is quite literally a case study in urban-planning textbooks and classrooms all over the world."