Hampden’s Miracle on 34th Street by Nichole


I was in Baltimore this past weekend for the Ravens game (I’m a Ravens fan from Pittsburgh who lives in DC – it’s complicated.) and after suffering a disappointing defeat, my friend and I left the game looking for some cheer. Luckily, we were a cheap cab ride away from Baltimore’s own brand of cheer: 34th Street in the Hampden neighborhood.

The Miracle on 34th Street as it’s come to be called is a Christmas tradition in Baltimore, and one that I’ve missed. (I called Baltimore home on and off in my early 20s and sometimes I really miss it. I’m a blue collar girl at heart and Baltimore is comfort food for me. Of course, there’s a reason existing on mashed potatoes and mac n’ cheese alone is inadvisable and I’m very happy living here and visiting from time to time.) This year it was just what I needed to put me back in a good mood after the game.


About 25 houses on one block participate, and some even let folks inside for a peek. On Sunday there was someone selling hot chocolate, an appearance by Biker Santa and a group of Japanese tourists. If you find yourself in Charm City before January 1, you should definitely make a stop in Hampden. Not just for the lights, but maybe the meatloaf at Cafe Hon, or a burrito at Holy Frijoles (which doesn’t serve alcohol on Sundays), or an afternoon of shopping the Avenue before hitting 34th Street after the sun goes down.


11 Comment

  • Sweet!

    Do we have any decorations worth seeing here in town? I’ve noticed most of the pics today show homes decked out.

  • I’m glad to see they are still doing this. I also lived in B’more during my 20’s and since then, this is one of those areas that has gentrified quite a bit.

  • This is such a fun holiday tradition! Several people on the block create awesome decorations out of recyclables and bike parts and stuff. It’s so much fun to look at. There’s one guy who always makes a tree hung with crabs whose legs are pieces of bike chains!

  • Yay, B’more! I went to the ceremonial lighting of 34th Street last month when I was home for Thanksgiving. It was great to go back and see all my old childhood favorites (a lot of the houses’ decorations have been basically the same for the past 15 years).

    If going you’re going to be up there visiting, let me add a suggestion for eating at Susie’s Soba, also in Hampden on the Avenue.

  • You lost me at “Ravens fan from Pittsburgh.” Now, Im a ‘Skins fan but I married a Steel City wonder and have adopted the Steelers into my football heart (although this year has been difficult with our seasons intermeshing as much)…as far as I can see it, if you were from an AFC north area, you dont just become a fan of the other team. We’re you trying to annoy your parents? Geez- get a tattoo or something, but don’t root for the Ravens.

    That being said, B’more has more fun with Christmas that anywhere else Ive ever seen. Maybe next year PoP can organize a Petworth v. Columbia Heights X-mas contest to prove which neighborhood has, in fact, the most spirit (ok, not really for the competition, but to motivate people..ya know?_)

  • There are several streets off Kansas or Illinois Avenues near GA Ave that had beautiful house lights for Christmas a few years ago. I don’t know if the people are doing it this year. Of course, on the Gold or Platinum Coast off upper 16th Street there are some absolutely memorable house displays that often get media attention. So PoP, why not do a feature on it? One night a few years ago, I was driving home and saw so many gorgeous house decorations but I never got the exact streets, but it was in Petworth.

  • Believe it or not, the real estate deeds for that block indicate that any new owner must contribute to the (short) block holiday decorations as a covenant. It brings a quarter of a million visitors to the neighborhood each year!

  • baltimore. hampden. yuck. can’t believe i lived there. oh and holy frijoles is some of the WORST food i have ever had. seriously the person i was with said “this is disgusting”

  • My buying in Petworth in 07 was directly related to some fabulous Xmas decorations on the porch roofs on many peoples’ homes (in 06). I was wondering should I or shouldn’t I put a bid down on a place, and went for another drive at night through the neighborhood — this time in Dec, and the decorations were amazing. I bought. But it hasn’t been the same the past two Xmases. I am planning to do my bit next year, as soon as my house gets some supportive wiring. I think that contest idea is great, or maybe some sparks can get set through PoP’s blog.

  • The pictures from Baltimore are awesome, like those rows of houses off Kansas, or at the Mormon Temple.

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