Friday, March 04, 2005

Our Fair Annapolis

Yesterday's Capital announced what most of us in Anne Arundel County already knew, our gem on the Severn, Annapolis, is one of the top traveling destinations in the US. The National Trust for Historic Preservation chose Annapolis as one of its 12 Distinctive Destinations for 2005. The President of the Trust declared, "It's a thriving, living community, with a waterside location that fosters boating and yachting, and summertime festivals that attract crowds to the City Dock for crisp salt air and views of sailing vessels."

Indeed, it is. All of us owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those, like the Historic Annapolis Foundation, who had the foresight to protect Annapolis' historic heritage when there were those who were waiting with wrecking balls and bulldozers to initiate "urban renewal" in the 1950s and 1960s. The lesson of Annapolis is one we should all take to heart. People come to the City (and the County) for a reason, because of its historical significance and its beauty. History doesn't remember (or remember fondly) those who were stifled in their attempts to raze Annapolis. In fact, the primary testaments to their existence are the hideously out-of-character "modern" buildings that are jammed in around town. History smiles on those dedicated Annapolitans and other preservationists who set about protecting their hometown with all the resources at their disposal.

Of course, even Annapolis is not without room for some improvement. The addition of more commercial businesses aimed at serving residents, rather than just tourists, would be welcome. More difficult to address is the increasing homogeneity of the downtown demographic. Housing in historic Annapolis and the area surrounding it is so expensive that younger adults, and even older adults with school age children are being squeezed out of the area. High property values are good for the tax base (as is the absence of school age children), but serious consideration should given to the long-term health of a community that consists largely of just retirees. If you haven't before, spend some time in Eastport and some time in downtown Annapolis, and see which you think feels like a tighter community.



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