I’ve been taking a lot of walks since joining The Banner as a local news editor and settling near Locust Point, a historic neighborhood in south Baltimore undergoing a lot of changes.

Locust Point only covers about 100 acres, but it’s a fascinating place to explore by foot or bike.

It’s full of reminders of our history, from Fort McHenry, where American forces withstood the British bombardment of September 1814 to save Baltimore, inspiring Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” to the site of piers where immigrants first stepped ashore.

There are also spectacular water views, most notably at Fort McHenry and the boardwalk near Under Armour’s global headquarters. And there’s the iconic Domino Sugars sign.

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Big guns protected Fort McHenry and the city during the Battle of Baltimore. The fort offers views of the Patapsco River, the Key Bridge and nearby industry. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

And finally, Locust Point has a small-town feel, centered by Latrobe Park, designed in the early 20th century by the famed Olmsted Brothers landscape architectural firm.

Not that Locust Point is stuck in the past. The park is just down the road from a redeveloped area of apartments, restaurants, stores and a Courtyard Marriott.

Here are seven places to see in Locust Point.

Fort McHenry

You can go here either to take in the dazzling views of the Patapsco River from the mile-long Sea Wall Trail or immerse yourself in the captivating story of the star-shaped fort, which was constructed in 1776 to protect Baltimore during the Revolutionary War. I love going here for walks or bike rides, free of charge. On a fall afternoon last year, fog settled over the park as the sun peeked through the clouds. Trees in their autumnal glory stood out as the water view was obscured.

A tree with autumn leaves stands out against the fog at Fort McHenry, fall 2022. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

On a cold January day, I wandered the visitor center and watched the film about the Battle of Baltimore. There are outdoor flag-changing programs at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. where the public can help fold the flag. It’s a nice ceremony to take part in. I learned that President Harry S Truman in 1948 ordered the flag be flown perpetually over the fort, and that it was turned into a military hospital during World War I, with more than 100 buildings covering the grounds.

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The visitor center currently has an exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of its unusual statue of Orpheus, the Greek god of music and poetry that was dedicated to Key and the fort’s defenders from the War of 1812. The dedication in June 1922 drew some 15,000 people to the fort, including President Warren G. Harding and his wife Florence, who greeted World War I veterans.

The dedication of the Orpheus statue at Fort McHenry in 1922 drew 15,000 people, including President Warren G. Harding. The statue was intended to honor Francis Scott Key, who penned the lyrics to the “Star-Spangled Banner.” (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
Fireworks and smoke fill the sky during a Defenders’ Day celebration at Fort McHenry, September 2022. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

A good time to visit the fort is on Defenders’ Day weekend in September, when events such as a parade, a mock bombardment, music and fireworks mark the successful defense of Baltimore. Another is when the cherry blossoms are in bloom in the spring, providing a less stressful way to enjoy the wonder of spring without fighting the crowds in Washington.

Cherry blossoms draw visitors to Fort McHenry, April 2023. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

Fort Avenue railroad bridge

Another favorite spot is the bridge that carries East Fort Avenue over the railroad tracks just west of Fort McHenry. CSX announced in 2018 that it was closing its yard in Locust Point, but would continue serving some local customers, such as Domino Sugar. Trains still occasionally pass under the span. Look north and you’ll see a 10-story mountain of salt at the Port of Baltimore that is used to supply crews that treat roads during wintry weather. You can also view ships in the harbor, Silo Point (a former B&O Railroad grain elevator converted into luxury condos), and Johns Hopkins Hospital across the river.

Look over at the newer red-brick townhouses to the west and imagine the era when the B&O Railroad’s Locust Point Tobacco Warehouse stood there. Look south and you’ll still see rail cars on tracks, as well as I-95 and often a cruise ship docked at the port on the Middle Branch side. It is not unusual to hear cruise or train horns in Locust Point, often mixed in with the steady hum of I-95 traffic. I crossed the bridge on a foggy night and the whole place had a film noir feel. All you needed was Sinatra singing, “I Cover the Waterfront.”

An evening fog that settled over Locust Point gives the industrial section a film noir feel in fall 2022. A bridge near the entrance of Fort McHenry offers a view of a 10-story salt pile and the Silo Point residential community, which was once a railroad grain elevator. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
Rail cars line tracks that extend from the Port of Baltimore to the Interstate 95 corridor. In the background, a cruise ship docks at the port. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
A huge pile of salt as seen from a bridge on East Fort Avenue in Locust Point. In the distance is the Silo Point residential community. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

Tide Point

The first time I biked down to the boardwalk at Tide Point, which sits in front of Under Armour, I heard someone describe it as the “best-kept secret in Baltimore.” I don’t know if that’s true, but the views of Harbor Point, Fells Point, Canton and the widening river are wonderful.

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If you’re biking, you can take a break in an Adirondack chair and spend some time, in the words of Bob Dylan, “watching the river flow.” The adjacent Under Armour complex is a creative redevelopment of a Procter & Gamble complex that dates back to the 1920s and once produced Ivory soap and Cascade liquid detergent, among other things.

Under Armour has a visitor center but plans to decamp in the coming years to a new headquarters in nearby Port Covington. While at Tide Point, check out the abstract Baltimore Immigration Memorial and storage tanks that feature murals of sports legends Cal Ripken Jr., Ray Lewis and Michael Phelps. A winding, tree-lined sidewalk that runs along Key Highway East from Under Armour toward Federal Hill takes you past rail cars and offers views of the 101-year-old Domino Sugar Baltimore Refinery, including the back of its famous sign (switched out two years ago, with an an LED-powered sign replacing the red-neon version there since 1951).

A boardwalk in front of the Under Armour complex offers a panoramic view of the Patapsco River from Harbor Point to Canton. To the right are storage tanks bearing the likenesses of Baltimore sports icons. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
Railroad tracks pass through the Under Armour complex, once a Procter & Gamble plant, in Locust Point. To the right is Key Highway East heading toward Federal Hill. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
The Domino Sugar plant, opened in 1922, is located a few blocks away from the Baltimore Museum of Industry. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

East Fort Avenue

Locust Point’s main street is quite a mix of old and new, and it’s worth taking a stroll to see the changing character of the community. At the west end of Locust Point, the intersection of Fort Avenue and Key Highway offers a view of the Patapsco River and the emerging Harbor Point community on the other side. Newer restaurants such as Limoncello Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar and Taco Mama Cantina (housed in the Anthem House apartment building), The Local Oyster and Copper Shark (in a renovated, historic brick building, The Foundry on Fort Avenue) have become popular draws. They complement an array of neighborhood restaurants and bars tucked into row homes such as LP Steamers, City Limits Sports Bar, Hull Street Blues Cafe, Barracudas Locust Point Tavern, EAT, Serenity Wine Cafe and fun spots like Ice Queens Snoball Shop.

On the south side of Fort Avenue is the McHenry Row development, anchored by a Harris Teeter. The complex, located on the former site of the Chesapeake Paperboard Co., looks out on little-league fields filled with kids or adult kickball players, depending on the day. A water tower preserves the industrial feel of the area. At Porter Avenue, look south to see the top of cruise ships on the other side of I-95.

Meander down the streets named for War of 1812 figures and let your eyes wander to pink flamingos, Adirondack chairs, flags, you name it — all found out front of homes. I also like the lamppost on Woodall Street that’s covered with bumper stickers.

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Late-afternoon sun shines on rowhomes along East Fort Avenue near McHenry Row, winter 2023. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
A pink flamingo stands in a planter in front of a rowhome in Locust Point. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
View of a fence and rowhomes in Locust Point, with the back of the Domino Sugars sign in the background. Spring 2023. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

Latrobe Park

This well-kept, 121-year-old park, which covers about six acres, contributes to the old-timey feel of Locust Point. According to Baltimore Heritage, it was “created to serve the working class neighborhoods on the Locust Point peninsula. … This design combined old sensibilities of parks as natural retreats with new ideas that parks could promote recreation.” The park includes a promenade along East Fort Avenue that overlooks tree-lined walking trails, a playground, tennis and basketball courts, a soccer field and a track. Just across Fort Avenue is Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, the cornerstone of which was laid and blessed by Cardinal James Gibbons in 1889 and once the religious home to many Irish immigrants.

Latrobe Park along East Fort Avenue was designed in the early 20th century by the Olmsted Brothers architectural firm. To the left is Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, which dates to the late 19th century. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
A sign in front of Latrobe Park tells the history of Locust Point. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
Scooters await riders on a spring evening at the entrance to Latrobe Park in Locust Point. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

Baltimore Immigration Museum

Locust Point served as “Baltimore’s Ellis Island” before the real thing came along, and so it’s only fitting that it has a small museum that tells the history of the 1.2 million European immigrants who passed through this port of entry between 1868 and its closure in 1914. The museum, at 1308 Beason St., is located in a building constructed in 1904 by the neighboring Locust Point Community United Church of Christ. For more than a decade, Immigrant House provided temporary housing for more than 3,700 European immigrants who disembarked in Baltimore, according to the museum. Many then boarded trains in Locust Point bound for their final destinations.

When I stopped by last fall, a museum staffer named Jim gave me a brief tour and discussed the different ethnic and religious groups that settled in Baltimore during those years (including Germans, Irish, Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Czechs, Italians and Greeks), and offered to check the museum’s records for any of my ancestors. I asked him where the ships carrying immigrants docked, and he said they did so at piers near what is now Silo Point (the B&O immigration piers were destroyed in a suspicious 1917 fire that spread to a British steamship). The museum is open weekends from 1 to 4 p.m. March through November or by appointment during the winter.

The National Immigration Memorial, located near the Under Armour boardwalk, is a short walk from the Baltimore Immigration Museum. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
Residents of Silo Point live in a converted former B&O Railroad grain elevator. More than a century ago, immigrants streamed into Locust Point, stepping ashore on piers near Silo Point. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)

The Baltimore Museum of Industry

You’ll need more time to see all that the Baltimore Museum of Industry, located at 1415 Key Highway in an 1860s oyster cannery (at the western edge of Locust Point), has to offer. It’s amazing to see how the shores of Baltimore were once filled with steamship docks, canning factories and major manufacturers like Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point.

I particularly enjoyed the exhibits on the printing industry, including the many newspapers that Baltimore once boasted. It included historical photos of The Baltimore Sun’s composing room staff in 1914 and a sign for The Baltimore Banner, a short-lived strike newspaper in the mid-1960s. I also enjoyed strolling around some of the outdoor attractions, including a 1906 steam tug, The Baltimore, and a towering, green crane salvaged from Sparrows Point. The museum — like Locust Point in general — is a great place to revisit the city’s history and remember how it once was.

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The Baltimore Museum of Industry is located on Light Street at the site of an 1860s oyster cannery. In the background is the iconic Domino Sugar sign. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
A sign for a short-lived strike newspaper from the ’60s called The Baltimore Banner can be seen at a printing exhibit at The Baltimore Museum of Industry. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)
Bay window juts out over the sidewalk from the front of Baltimore Museum of Industry. View is looking west down Light Highway. April 2023. (Norman Gomlak / The Baltimore Banner)