The power station at the centre of Baltimore’s nightlife

Published on Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tourist guides of Baltimore, Maryland, point out a neighbourhood in the town centre that concentrates nightlife, and daytime activities: it is the Inner Harbor, the area of the port, which attracts tourists because of the great amount of attractions, shops and views. And within Inner Harbor, the guides highlight a complex of three buildings, an imposing construction that visitors admire due to the magnificence and modernity of its architecture.

It is hard to believe that what presently appears as a futuristic building in terracotta and steel in the beginning of the 20th century hosted a power plant. Yet it is true: the Pratt Street Power Plant operated as the main source of electricity for an urban rail system, the United Railways and Electric Company, which extended the public transport to the entire city. Later it became a steam facility that supplied electricity to the Consolidated Gas, Electric Light and Power Company, the predecessor of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, until 1973, when it was dismantled.

The building was then purchased by the City of Baltimore, and after some time it became a huge multidimensional entertainment centre. Today it includes - among several businesses - one of the most famous restaurants in the city, the Phillips seafood restaurant, as well as the world famous Hard Rock Café and the contemporary art gallery Maryland Art Place.

The redevelopment saved the four smokestacks towering from above - preserved to recall the industrial past of Baltimore and now symbolically supporting the universally known guitar that is the logo of the "Hard Rock Cafe" - and extended the area east of the Inner Harbor, so that it links the two sides of the city. This way the area is even more suitable to become the main entertainment urban district.

Therefore, the Pratt Street Power Plant contributed twice to the progress of the "Charm City", as it is known for the fascination of its past, the indissoluble bond with the sea, and the particular inclination for social, cultural and sports life,. Just like the power plant gave great impetus to the growth of the city and its industrial fabric, the new use of the building marked the beginning of the ‘second Renaissance’ of Baltimore.

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