Here’s a brief history lesson: According to US government records, the first Chinese immigrants arrived in 1820. However, it has been documented that on August 9th, 1785 three Chinese seamen arrived aboard the Pallas from Canton (now Guangzhou), China . They first stepped foot on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor 225 years ago.
Today Baltimore is known as Charm City where the Inner Harbor is filled with fine seafood dining, the museums are all free and their maritime heritage is just as pervasive now as it was then. It makes perfect sense to have the National Aquarium here in Baltimore along with the world’s best crab cakes ever at Phillips Seafood.
JC and I strolled around the Inner Harbor Saturday night and saw a massive line snaked around the admission booths. We sauntered over to see what the buzz was all about and discovered that the National Aquarium was having an amazing deal. They were offering a dolphin show, aquarium admission and a 4D movie screening for just $16! The aquarium has enough exhibits to keep you entertained for the entire day. The best part of the aquarium was “Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance.” It was captivating the way these creatures moved and remarkable how their physique is designed to glide through water.
Baltimore might be known as Charm City but it also has the highest murder rates in the country. Not so far away from the harbor is the apparent poverty. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was once the second leading port of entry for immigrants to the United States and a major manufacturing center. I spent my New Years in Baltimore. Not a place you’d associate ringing in the New Year with but JC and I went to watch the annual fireworks at the Inner Harbor. It was quite a view for a small city like Baltimore. On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by a 7-Eleven to pick up some water. In front of the convenient store was a black man sitting in the middle of the sidewalk on a 10 degree night, obliviously drunk and discombobulated.
When we left the convenient store a black guy approached us and told us this long (and I mean long) drawn out story that went something likes this:
Hey my brotha, can you spare some change? I parked my car ova thea but lost my keys so I asked the 5-0 to use their carjack to open ma door but then it broke and naw I gotta hop on the bus home except I ain’t got ’nuff change and I know in this parta town wheneva a black man asks for change, people automatically think he a bum. But I ain’t no bum. I just needa get home. Look’a hea, I got my ID. Imma give you ma ID and you can hold on to it till I come back. Hea, why don’t you hold on to that and imma be right back.
By that time, we just wanted to give him the money so we could all get on with our night. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure his game plan for a long- drawn out story was to make the person feel as uncomfortable as possible so that they’d just give the money and have him leave. JC gave him some change and told him not to worry about paying him back. When we got back to our hotel room, we turned on the TV and the first thing we hear is that Baltimore just had their first murder of 2010. Nice.
But hey! Don’t let that deter you from visiting Baltimore. There’s plenty to see and do in Charm City. There’s a reason they call it that. You just have to go and find out why.