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Baltimore Living

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Moorish Tower

Druid Hill Park

In the late 1800s, architect George A. Frederick designed City Hall, the Palm House at the Conservatory, and various Druid Hill Park gems. But an observatory he designed at the southeast corner of the park offers more than a vantage point. The Moorish Tower visually connects the Victorian era to the sped-up, heavy concrete and asphalt years that followed. From the Tower you could once gaze along the Jones Falls, soaking in a panorama of the little towns and neighborhoods that made up the Baltimore "metro" area. Now, the predominant vista is twisting ribbons of highway and the industrial corridor that developed since the Falls was turned into an underground stream that runs along and under the terminus of an interstate highway. The park behind you remains more or less intact, a trove of leafy picnic spots, but the city, a declined manufacturing nexus carved through the heart by a concrete canyon, is laid out in its degraded glory. It's a view the old architect might consider horrifying, yet it is moving and perversely beautiful. For this we gave up Frederick's pastoral landscape

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