Twenty of the most pivotal events in Baltimore this year, in chronological order.
By Ron Cassie, Christianna McCausland, Lauren Cohen, Janelle Erlichman Diamond, Grace Hebron, Jane Marion, Amy Scattergood, Max Weiss, and Lydia Woolever
Illustration by Kam Arroyo
In 2022, two years after COVID-19 first reared its ugly head, we finally started to feel like ourselves again. With more than 70 percent of the city vaccinated, masks came off, arts institutions resumed regular programming, bars and restaurants saw an uptick in reservations (we even saw some new, fast-favorites emerge), and annual community events came back with a bang. Of course, like every year, there was some drama and heartbreak, too. (More on that later.) But through it all, our quirky, proud, resilient hometown stuck together—as it always does.
Here are the highlights that shaped the city this year, as compiled by our editors.
In perhaps one of the most heartwarming stories of the year—which made national headlines—Fells Point’s H&S Bakery made Baltimore proud when truck driver Ron Hill gave away 500 split-top wheat loaves to fellow motorists stuck overnight on I-95 between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia due to severe ice and snow conditions. Other Good Samaritans included Ellicott City native Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, who collaborated with H&S and helped Hill distribute the bread to hungry passengers in need. “It proves there is goodness in the world,” H&S co-owner Chuck Paterakis told us in January. “I just wish we could have supplied them some butter or peanut butter, too.”
After decades of discussion surrounding the future of Baltimore’s Penn Station, scaffolding went up this February and kicked off the at-least $75-million redevelopment of the 112-year-old train hub. Led by local real-estate heavyweights Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners, the multi-year project includes the currently underway restoration and preservation of the historic “headhouse,” from maintaining the Beaux Arts building’s architectural details to reimagining its interior space for new restaurants and retail. It will also shepherd the future expansion onto the drab Lanvale Street parking lot north of the Amtrak tracks, where a new state-of-the-art concourse will be constructed for train travel and public use in 2025. So far, the future of the station’s Male/Female statue is yet to be determined, but the project has implications beyond its immediate location, rippling out into the surrounding neighborhoods that make up Station North.
Change is good, right? We hope so, because Charm City saw a lot of it this year when it came to our arts scene. Jenenne Whitfield took over in September at the American Visionary Art Museum for founder Rebecca Hoffberger, who retired in March. Over at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jonathon Heyward will begin a five-year contract next month as music director. The 29-year-old, who replaces departing Marin Alsop, is the first person of color to be the orchestra’s director in its 106-year history. Gregory S. Smith was appointed to be the executive director at Creative Alliance, and Baltimore Center Stage named Adam Frank as managing director. Hopefully 2023 is when we hear who the Baltimore Museum of Art, which announced the resignation of Christopher Bedford after five-and-a-half years in February, will select as their new director.
Twenty years after The Wire debuted, David Simon came back with another HBO series that took on the dark side of Baltimore—this time exploring the dirty cops who planted evidence, padded their own pockets, and carelessly ruined lives. Filmed entirely in Baltimore, with a bunch of native extras and leads—our own menschy Josh Charles as a sadistic cop, say it ain’t so!—the six-part miniseries, based on the book of the same name by journalist Justin Fenton, focused on the exploits of the notorious Gun Trace Task Force. Jon Bernthal gave a particularly explosive performance as cocky alpha cop Det. Wayne Jenkins. (And nailed the Baltimore accent, hon.) And local scribe D. Watkins wrote an episode and was deeply involved in the production. Some saw the critically acclaimed series as a bit of a corrective for The Wire, which depicted the cops in a much more flattering light.
For all of the new, exciting food and beverage joints we welcomed this year (among them: The Royal Blue, Church Bar, Marta, Kajiken, and Little Donna’s) we also said goodbye to some longstanding favorites. After 30 years, Cafe Hon—soon to be transformed into a new concept by Foreman Wolf Restaurant Group—shuttered its doors on the Avenue in Hampden in April. The Midway Bar—the only non-strip-club bar on The Block, which was a known haven for the community’s dancers, doormen, servers, and shift workers for decades—cracked open its last cans of Boh in July. And Bertha’s, the green-painted community stalwart on Broadway Square, will soon serve its final batch of mussels and host its last live performance. “It was time,” second-generation Bertha’s owner Andy Norris told us after the announcement of the bar going up for sale in October. “We feel fulfilled, and now we’re able to pursue other things. Change is good.” Thanks for the memories.
Fom Old Bay-covered crabs to pit beef sandwiches, it doesn’t get much tastier than Charm City cuisine. And this year, famous folks (finally) took notice. For instance, it was love at first sight when Cravings cookbook author Chrissy Teigen sampled her first lemon-peppermint stick. (“Holy shit this is so good!” she wrote on Instagram.) Homegrown actor Josh Charles also made us proud when he whipped up a classic egg custard snowball for Jimmy Fallon on air. And actress Melanie Griffith even shouted us out when she was made aware of the bar named after her in Hampden. (Owners Allison Crowley and Hannah Spangler added “Melanie’s” to the name of the historic Griffith’s Tavern when they took it over in February.) “Well..who knew!” Griffith wrote on Instagram. “I am honored to have this tavern, in the city my father’s family hails from, named after me. It looks like a destination where one can have ‘a good ass time!’”
Thirty-six years after The Baltimore News-American folded and 27 years after The Evening Sun set permanently, Baltimore is once again a two daily newspaper town. But there’s a catch: This new one, The Baltimore Banner, is 100-percent digital and a nonprofit. Stewart Bainum, who fronts The Banner’s ownership group, the Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism, had made some attempts to buy The Sun, in vain. So, in June of this year, he and his partners took matters into their own hands, launching their own publication, and poaching many of The Sun’s most high-profile journalists along the way—including Justin Fenton, Liz Bowie, and Tim Prudente. A creature of the digital age, The Banner is a bit looser than The Sun, utilizing TikTok videos, Instagram Reels, and podcasts, but they’ve already broken some big stories, including a report on the infighting among the Angelos sons for eventual control of the Orioles. Will Baltimoreans make the newspaper part of their daily habit—and support it enough to keep it in the black? Only time will tell. But we sure like the sound of being a two-newspaper town again.
Somewhere in the halls of the Joseph Meyerhoff symphony, there sit a giant pair of shoes left behind by Maestra Marin Alsop, who announced her retirement from the top post at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in early 2020. But soon, they will be filled by a somewhat familiar face, when her replacement, Jonathon Heyward, takes over as the 106-year-old orchestra’s 13th music director, starting in the fall. The 29-year-old South Carolina native performed with his future colleagues in three performances this past spring, and when he takes over, he will be the first conductor of color in the BSO’s history and the only African-American conductor currently leading a major U.S. symphony orchestra—not to mention the youngest, by decades. His resume includes study at the Boston Conservatory of Music, as well as posts at the Boston Opera Collaborative, Royal Academy of Music in London, and National Symphony Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Catch him in Baltimore this May, when he will be conducting two weekends of performances.
Timothy Reynolds of Hampden, a 48-year-old Johns Hopkins University-trained engineer and married father of three, was shot and killed near the Inner Harbor after leaving his car and confronting a group of squeegee workers with a baseball bat in July. A 15-year-old, who was 14 on the bright summer’s day of the tragedy, was soon indicted on a first-degree murder charge. A Circuit Court for Baltimore City judge denied a request from the teen’s attorneys to have the murder case transferred to juvenile court in exchange for a guilty plea to manslaughter.
The 2022 Orioles weren’t just “entertaining cellar-dwellers,” as we dubbed them last year. They were legitimately good—in the pennant race until September—and the fans returned en masse to cheer them on. Much of this improvement can be attributed to their phenomenal young catcher, Adley Rutschman, who brought all the tools to the table (bat, glove, baseball IQ), including some ineffable ones—like an enthusiasm for the game that permeated the team.
But he wasn’t the only exciting youngster. Flame-throwing closer Felix Bautista (nicknamed “the Mountain”) walked out of the bullpen to the strains of Omar’s whistle from The Wire, endearing himself to O’s fans for life. Third baseman Gunnar Henderson has potential to be a superstar—and not just because of his luxurious blond mane. He has a knack for the dramatic, hitting a key home run in just his second major league at-bat. And the longer tenured players—sluggers Ryan Mountcastle and Anthony Santander; the speedy Cedric Mullins and Jorge Mateo—more than did their part.
The only bummer? We traded fan favorite Trey Mancini to Houston, putting O’s fans in the unfamiliar position of rooting for the Astros to win the World Series. The team—and Trey—came through. Can we have him back now?
Ever since Johns Hopkins University proposed hiring its own armed police force in 2018, pushback and protests from students and the community alike have followed. Amid nationwide protests over police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in 2020, plans were temporarily halted. University officials announced they would use the down time to update campus safety measures, improve partnerships with the city, and allow legislators to pass statewide reforms. Of course, many universities nationally and locally (Towson, Loyola, Coppin State, Morgan State) have their own force, but the idea of armed cops on a private campus in the center of a majority-Black city—where relationships with law enforcement are already fraught—has raised controversy and concern about over-policing, racial profiling, and police brutality.
The university has attempted to allay fears by agreeing to several measures, including complying with the city’s consent degree, wearing body cameras, and only tackling minor crimes, such as breaking and entering and theft (while the BPD would handle investigations of more serious crimes, such as rape or murder). In early December, at long last, after a two-month period for public and Baltimore City Council review, as well as several town halls, JHU finalized a memorandum of understanding with the Baltimore Police Department. This was the latest, and likely the last, step in a protracted process of forming a force to bolster campus safety. Next up: The university has moved toward developing departmental policy and procedures, as well as recruiting and training officers.
Labor Day weekend brought residents of Sandtown-Winchester and Harlem Park not block parties and barbecues, but an E. coli outbreak. For five hot and humid days, the historically underserved communities in West Baltimore (and some parts of Baltimore County) sweltered under a boil water advisory while city officials scrambled to understand the contamination. The Department of Public Works reported in late September that the E. coli presence was caused when a series of catastrophic infrastructure failures led to decreased chlorination levels in the water system. While no one was made sick, the episode underscored—not for the first time—the potentially devastating impacts of the city’s aged, crumbling infrastructure systems.
It had been more than 20 years since Adnan Syed was found guilty in the Baltimore Circuit Court of first-degree murder in the killing of Hae Min Lee—his ex-girlfriend and classmate at Woodlawn High School. (The case rose to national prominence thanks to the true-crime podcast Serial.) Syed had long maintained his innocence, and in 2016, a judge ordered a new trial, only to have the state’s highest court reverse that decision. But in September of this year, a judge granted prosecutors’ request to vacate his conviction in light of newly acquired evidence not previously turned over to defense attorneys. And by October, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby dropped charges against Syed, declaring that “the case is over” and that he had been “wrongly convicted.” As of press time, the Appellate Court of Maryland announced it will hear oral arguments in early February about whether the hearing that led to Syed being freed was held correctly. Lee’s brother asserts that he did not receive proper notice of the hearing, and was denied the right to be heard, a violation of crime victims’ rights.
When Lexington Market, the flagship of Baltimore’s storied public market system, opened its doors again in October, after a long and expensive rebuild, it didn’t take long for the lines to form again. When it’s finally completed next summer, 48 vendors—about half new merchants, half legacy, many of whom are multi-generational—will load the impressive new complex at the city’s center—where the community has been gathering for more than 200 years. And Lexington is just part of Baltimore’s reinvigorated system of public markets and food halls. The Mill on North, West Baltimore’s first food hall, will open in the spring with an all-Black vendor lineup.
Baltimorean, best-selling author, Rhodes Scholar, veteran, former investment banker, and nonprofit CEO Wes Moore became the third Black-elected governor in U.S. history this year. But he was also just one of several barrier-breaking statewide officials elected to office. Baltimore state delegate Brooke Lierman will become the first woman to serve as state comptroller. Former two-term lieutenant governor and three-term Democratic congressman Anthony Brown is set to become the state’s first Black attorney general. Former state delegate Aruna Miller will also become the first-ever Indian American Lt. Governor.
The people have spoken, and they want to legally buy weed. Sixty-seven percent of voters said “yes” to Question 4 on the November ballot, making Maryland the 20th state (and the District of Columbia) to legalize a drug the Feds still classify as a Schedule I substance. Come July 1, 2023, adults 21 and older can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and grow up to two plants. But much of the regulation around legalization—including a framework for retail sales—has yet to be worked out. Lawmakers must also wrestle with how to ensure the industry is not plagued with the racial inequities that have dogged medical cannabis in the state since its rollout in 2014, as well as how to execute the expungement mandated by a companion bill that will wipe criminal records where possession of cannabis was the only charge.
There might be no Baltimore band since Future Islands who has had such a meteoric rise as Turnstile did this year, perhaps setting the new record for local artist success. The circa-2010 hardcore punk band has risen from rough-and-tumble clubs like The Sidebar and Charm City Arts Space to The Tonight Show, NPR’s Tiny Desk, and now three Grammy nominations—with their third LP, Glow On, catapulting the band’s eclectically metal sound and charismatically moshpity stage presence onto the national, and global, stage. We especially love how they brought other homegrown favorites along for the ride, with Ellicott City’s Snail Mail and the city’s JPEGMAFIA joining as opening acts on their fall tour. Meanwhile, they’ll be sharing the stage during the Blink 182 reunion shows this spring. Get acquainted by listening to new tracks like “Mystery” and “Underwater Boi.”
This was the year that some of Baltimore’s best-loved—and most-enduring—broadcasters retired from the tube, their combined years on air dating back to a time before there was even TV! From top anchor Stan Stovall (a 52-year veteran) and ace investigative reporter Jayne Miller (47 years) at WBAL-TV to meteorologist Bob “Sunshine Kid” Turk over at WJZ (nearly 50 years), morning, noon, and night will never be the same again without this holy trinity of trusted and familiar faces. “It has been an absolute privilege to be a part of your life,” Tweeted Turk. “Just like the weather, the wind can move us in different directions.” We certainly hope that one of those directions takes them across the Bay Bridge to a lounge chair on a beach.
After a four-year investigation, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s long-awaited report named 158 Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse, including 43 priests who had never been publicly identified by the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The state inquiry into the dark history of child sexual abuse by local clergy members documented more than 600 victims of sexual abuse. Meanwhile, the full report, including the names of the priests, has not been made public, but has remained sealed under state grand jury law. The effort to release the full report continues to be fought in court, with the Archdiocese funding lawyers trying to kept the grand jury proceedings under seal.
Two major fires broke out this year in Baltimore. In January, flames engulfed a South Stricker Street rowhome that partially collapsed as a result, trapping six firefighters. Three were killed, two were rescued, and one was hospitalized after sustaining major injuries. In June, three injuries occurred after an Abell home displaying Pride decor was set ablaze in what appeared to be a hate crime. Earlier this month, following the release of a report on January’s fatal flames—which offered suggestions to prevent a similar tragedy—Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford swiftly resigned.