The romance of imperfection

St. Regester Street, Baltimore, 2021

A Baltimore alley-street on an early morning. Is there anything more romantic, more evocative, more American?

Such narrow streets are rare outside of the big colonial era East Coast cities. This one lacks the picturesque perfection of an Elfreth’s Alley or a cobblestone Beacon Hill street. But the messiness of power lines and ad hoc development tell their own story. From a vintage Federal style townhouse to a contemporary rooftop addition clad in black metal, this space has seen lives and more lives. Cycles of prosperity, decline, improvisation and renewal can be read in the repurposed shopfronts, the Formstone cladding in the distance, the plastered over party wall where a building once adjoined its neighbor. There’s been no grand unifying master plan to homogenize it or bring it up to a corporate standard. It just is what it is: a jumble of styles, a tangle of powerlines, an access drive, a parking lot, a back yard, a front yard, a functional space where someone works, a cozy slice that someone calls home.