Baltimore experienced an avalanche of newly arrived immigrants who were escaping the “Great Hunger”, Ireland’s famine of 1845-1853. They settled in southwest Baltimore and promptly went to work for the vibrant Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
A careful look into Baltimore's ethnic neighborhoods illuminates the simplicity and heroism of the lives of our forebears. Let's learn about the elements of neighborhood life: one that contained all the essentials for families of the day.
Baltimore's rowhouses are legendary, and can be found where every socioeconomic level gathered and built families. New arrivals between 1845-1855 established homes that were perfect for them: low rents, considerable space within and neighborhood locations that made everyday life successful.
A bit of a miracle happened here. A Church and school were established just before huge numbers arrived due to the Great Hunger in Ireland. Educated clergy and women religious were placed providentially to transform a modest people into thriving citizens, who had hope and a future available to them.
St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church's stained glass windows give us an excellent view into the lives of ethnic Irish during the second half of the 19th century. Learning about the generosity of congregants, of various social standing gives us some surprising insights.
Many churches established cemeteries in what was thought of as rural property at the time. These places for burials were also considered the destination of the faithful, and a culmination of a life well lived.
The Hollins Street market was the primary shopping hub for this area; home to fish, meat, flower, vegetables, and other vendors.
They were also a vital center of socializing; do we dare compare them to the shopping malls of more recent years?
The B & O was America's first passenger and freight, common carrier system. Its beginnings drew many thousands to West Baltimore beginning in 1828, where neighborhoods were established by the immigrant Irish and others.