According to a really detailed study by walkscore.com, Baltimore is the 14th most walkable big city in America, coming in near the top of the 50 cities in our category. The study was painstakingly completed by calculating the distance from various addresses around the city to conveniences like restaurants, banks, and libraries. Not surprisingly, New York finished number one, just edging out San Francisco.
The best thing about this study is the Baltimore page, which breaks down walkability among our 258 neighborhoods. Federal Hill finished on top, with Otterbein, Mount Vernon, Hampden, and Charles Village also in the top-10. The map, which is color coded to show the city's most walkable (green) and least walkable (red) areas is endlessly fascinating. Besides following how walkability increases around commercial strips like Charles St., York Rd., and Reisterstown Rd., this map is a great, interactive resource for delineating the boundaries and locations of various neighborhoods. OK, so I'm a bit of a map geek, but this thing is cool!
Walkability is a big factor for us. I lived in New York for 17 years, 12 in Brooklyn. In my last apartment there, where my wife and I lived when we had our first son, we had a grocery store, butcher shop, produce stand, fish monger, dry cleaner, movie theater, deli, playground, park and Thai, Italian, Chinese, sushi—and so much more—all within a three-block radius of our house. We didn't have a car and only wished we had one when we wanted to go out of town. Moving to Baltimore three years ago was a major adjustment in many ways, and walkability was probably the biggest. We opted to live in Mt. Washington (number 247 out of 258 Bmore neighborhoods, walkability-wise), because we liked the neighborhood schools, but soon realized that we needed a car to do almost anything.
We've gotten used to it—a little too used to it: I almost never think to walk somewhere, even when it's a manageable distance. If we decide to move down the line, this list will definitely be helpful in finding a neighborhood where we can appreciate a little bit more of life on the street.