Let There Be Light: Hampden's Miracle on 34th Street

Let There Be Light: Hampden's Miracle on 34th Street

Kimber Watson
Dec 16, 2010

In a quirky area of Baltimore that was made famous by John Water's movie Pecker, you'll find a little block on 34th street all aglow. It's a mini-festival of lights of sorts — put on by the homeowners on both sides of the street — a tradition that's been taking place in Hampden for roughly 62 years (nobody can quite agree on when this tradition began). So as we're winding down the year here at Apartment Therapy — with Christmas and New Year's not far off — I thought I'd leave you with a walloping dose of festive holiday cheer.

In this mixed-class neighborhood, it's only fitting that you will find decorations of all kind. The Christmas displays range from adorably tacky to funky and artistic, but the one thing that can be certain is it's going to be over the top Christmas kitsch. In true Baltimore style, there's sure to be a healthy dose of Natty Bo beer can and Old Bay tin ornaments. Strands of lights tower from high above, running from one side of the street to the other. Crowd favorites are usually artist Jim Pollock's hub cap Christmas tree and bike rim snowmen, but the overhead model trains and giant snowglobes don't disappoint. A few of the owners will even welcome you in to tour their rowhome — a crazy concept for me to grasp given the thousands of visitors that come each night.

While it's a bit of a love-hate relationship with residents, made particularly trying by the influx of traffic and lack of parking, I can't really imagine Hampden without this Clark Griswold-esque spectacular. Now, something I've always wondered, what do you think the initiation process is like when there's a new homeowner on the block?

Images: Flickr member sneakerdog licensed for use via Creative Commons

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