People and Place Watching

Sat, Oct 15, 2016.
11:02 am
Bean Hollow, a small cafe on Main St, Old Ellicott City

54 degrees Fahrenheit this morning. The Ellicott City Old Town Market is in session. People are busy, walking in every direction, as they observe the beauty of the historic Main St.

It is chilly enough for people to wear sweaters and light jackets. The street is busy as usual for a weekend. The Ellicott City Old Town Market came back after quite some time so people are really excited for its return. Everyone is chit-chatting while they enjoy the free food and listen to music in the parking lot of The Wine Bin. The local artisans are selling their crafts as well and many people are walking over to check them out. This was taking place as I walked by to get to one of the best cafes, Bean Hollow. I could smell the scent of coffee at the end of the block. As I imagined it, this place is really crowded as well, with friends of all ages sipping coffee and other specialty drinks as they catch up on each others’ lives. I ordered a caramel macchiato, a popular drink at Bean Hollow. I find a seat there, with my laptop, near a window. As I sit there and “people-watch” out of the window, I observe that since it is a Saturday morning, a lot of the people walking around is between the ages of 30–65 ish. Some seems older but their physique and energy makes them look much younger. Cars are rushing in and out under the railway bridge, but everyone in the cars seems relaxed as they drive through this beautiful city. As I sit in the cafe, I hear people conversing about politics, sports, construction going on around Ellicott City, etc. The scent of my caramel macchiato is calling my name, so I pick up the cup to take a sip. It was eye opening, so delicious. I take another sip, and put the cup down. In my view outside the window, there is a portion of the side walk that is blocked off because of construction in the building. I see people follow this pattern as they are walking past that part of the side walk. It is 11:20 now, and this entire time people were just getting down on the street to pass the construction zone. About 50 people has already walked past the same way. I was thinking to myself why people weren’t just crossing the street to walk on the other side. As I was about to pick up my cup to take a sip, I see an old couple trying to cross the street to avoid the side walk construction. A young man, around his 20’s, comes to their aid and helps them cross the street. To my surprise, everyone who was walking in either direction starts to cross the street to avoid walking on the street. Among the sounds of chatter in the cafe, the cars outside, and the coffee brewing machine, I get lost in my thoughts.

Main St in Ellicott City is one of the historic attractions of Maryland. All the structures on this street is the same as they were in 1974. There have been many additions and fixtures to keep it look the same and also prevent it from collapsing. One can see this because the stones on the exteriors is of different shades of grey, because some are newer than others. Not only is the infrastructure of the city has the historical vibe, the way people treat this street is also something that gives off the vibe of the 90’s. Now, I immigrated to the US in ’09 so I’m not sure if this is how it was before that, but I have observed no change since then. Aside from the delicious coffee, I come here because I can feel the warmth of community.

People are mingling well with the environment. Everyone seems like they feel their belonging to this historic town as well as claim ownership of it. The conversations around the cafe that I am eavesdropping on is somehow mentioning something about the reconstruction of the city. The place is welcoming to all and accepts all kinds of people. The majority of the population that occupy this part is white, but I can see some people of color here and there. I am of color so it makes sense. So many different aged people are walking in and out of this cafe, as I sit here, awkwardly, just looking at everyone.

The cafe that I am sitting in was designed for people of all ages because it is a welcoming, warm place where couples, friends, families can come to spend some time together while trying their delicious coffee. As of Main St, it was designed to support a lifestyle of openness and closeness of people for other people. I definitely observe this to be true even to this day, because everyone seems so genuinely nice and welcoming for conversation. I am quite sure that people are starting to feel weird about me looking at them in intervals of five minutes, but no one seems too concerned. I am however, enjoying my coffee, through both my senses of smell and taste, as I look out to this beautiful section of Main St.

This little area is full of life and spirit. Everybody seems to be in a good mood and going about their Saturday as gaily as possible. Even though, people are not bothered by the construction going on, it is evident that it is creating inconveniences. Younger people are more quick to adapt than elders and the sidewalk scenario I mention above is a good example where younger people were just walking on the street to pass that portion, but the elder couple didn’t want to risk it, thus had to cross the street. This was a difficult task as they were not capable of doing it easily or on their own, an inconvenience. That may be a small scenario of only two people but since this community consists of many elders, I can quite confidently say that many elders are facing the same problem.
I also notice that many of the historic buildings need repairs. I do see that small repairs here and there have been done, but there needs to a major redo of Main St in its entirety so the aesthetics of the city is maintained and the people residing in the buildings feel safe. I believe that the parts of the city that needs repairs should take a step further and invest some money into renewable energy projects altogether so the city officials don’t have to burden themselves later with that stuff. Since the buildings that shape Main St are really old, it is safe to assume that none of these building can trap heat (during winter) and cold (during summer) as well. This means that the residents have to use extra energy to keep their home at a desirable temperature. Even though redoing the entire building can take the historic vibe away, the buildings can definitely adopt renewable energy solutions that can contribute power so they don’t have to rely on the power that is supplied by the power grid.

According to CityData.com, the last time a tally of people in Old Ellicott City was taken in 2010, which is an unbelievable number of 65,834. For such a little downtown, I would’ve imagined that number to be much smaller, but I can see how people would be attracted to this environment and want to move here. This particular website also provides details like how many males and females are among the 65k people. Interestingly enough the median age for Old Ellicott City is 41 and some change. As i have mentioned above, it is definitely an older crowd who wander these streets. 
It’ll be best if I include the link to the website, CityData.com, because they have a lot of information about the community. The website also tells us that the median income of Ellicott City is rather hefty compared to the rest of Maryland. The price of property is the same as well. There has been a 16% increase in population since 2000. This is good because more and more people want to stay close to heritage and this also signifies that people around Baltimore county and city are doing better, income wise, that they are moving to an expensive city.
Some of the top businesses in Ellicott City are Ellicott City Brewing Company, Portalli’s and The Wayside Inn. These are the popular spots as beer is brewed in-house, one of the best Italian restaurants and one of the best bed and breakfast spots respectively. There’s enough here to not feel the necessity to leave, EVER.

Historic Ellicott City, Inc. (HEC) is a non-profit volunteer organization founded in 1974. The organization is the result of a merger of Historic Ellicott Mills, Inc. and the Ellicott City Bicenntenial Association, Inc.. (“Historic Ellicott City | Preserve, Educate and Restore.” Historic Ellicott City. Mays & Associates, 2016. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.)
This was a better description than one I could’ve come up with. I cited the website so it’s not plagiarism. Anyhow, Ellicott City is one of the historic sites in Maryland and people from all over the nation come to visit. Since it was built in 1974, the building have had many repairs and as I mentioned before, one can notice the difference between the old and new. There hasn’t been any drastic change in infrastructure that I know of, meaning it has been quite the same for the last like seven years. Most of the people who reside here, own multiple cars, as they are wealthy, so there are no transportation issues. There are enough sites for recreation around Main St for all ages so that’s not a concern either. Affordable housing is not something Ellicott City offers. If one is wealthy enough to buy property here, they can live here. If not, they have to look elsewhere. This is also a predominantly Caucasian community so not many colored families reside here.

I have mentioned the issue that urged me to talk about Old Ellicott City for this project. In the summer, it suffered heavily from floods because of a thunderstorm. If you have read all of blog, by now, you would know that it has been quite devastating for the people who live there and for people who love the place in general. The city officials are hard at work to rebuild the city and bring back the businesses that was harmed. I speak of this in my initial video, where I also capture some of the businesses that were hurt from the floods. The articles attached would be able to clarify the issues much more than I can explain it to you. I’m not that great of a writer so I won’t torture you anymore.

What makes this space special — drawing people to it?

Beside the fact that this is one of the most beautiful historic sites in Baltimore, Maryland, I would have to say that the community, events, attractive businesses, etc. are few of the things that can attract people to visit EC. I love this place because it takes me back home (Bangladesh) and I don’t miss my motherland much. I like the environment of downtown, Ellicott City. The feel of community, the warmth of people and the beautiful scenery is what calls people to see this place. If you are interested in visiting historic sites, this is definitely one that I would recommend. I’m sorry if I was being too biased at times but that’s how much I love this place. If you are at all capable of helping, please donate, to help this city to be as vibrant as it used to be. #ECStrong

Choose whichever business you’d like to support. You’ll see the list if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. You can learn about each of the businesses on their gofundme websites. Every little bit counts. Much Appreciation. #ECStrong