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Hill Toppers: Federal Hill

Federal Hill proves why Baltimore is Charm City. It’s got quaint mom-and-pop shops, narrow cobblestone streets, and affordable rowhouses and overlooks the Inner Harbor.

Who lives here: Mostly young professionals, though the area’s beginning to attract empty-nesters and young families. The Federal Hill Preparatory School is getting notice for its E.D. Hirsch–designed curriculum.

Homefront: Rowhouses dominate, most of them developed in the Federal style of the early 1800s. You’ll rarely find more than two bedrooms. Many have roof decks overlooking the water. The neighborhood’s prettiest streets—Montgomery, William, and Battery—lead to Federal Hill Park, a grassy hilltop with harbor views.

What houses cost: Those bordering the park range from $500,000 to $1 million. Prices drop farther from the park. Several blocks away, you can find renovated two-bedrooms from the high $200,000s to the mid-$300,000s. Bargains await those willing to do a rehab.

Where the locals go: Residents buy meat and produce and enjoy oysters at the newly renovated Cross Street Market, a smaller version of Capitol Hill’s Eastern Market. Dog owners gather at the park after work. Professionals compete for couch space and sip lattes at Spoons. Recent college grads dance at MaGerk’s, a corner pub where the floors are as sticky as the buffalo wings.

Come together: Every spring Federal Hill throws a block party with concerts, artisans selling wares, and lots of drinks.

Biggest draw: The harbor, a ten-minute walk. Locals run and bike around it, sail on it, and zip across it on water taxis.

Drawbacks: Baltimore’s property taxes are the highest in the state—at least $2.29 for every $100 of assessed value. Parking can be tough; it’s worst when there are events at nearby Camden Yards or M&T Bank Stadium. “We don’t drive anywhere on game days,” says resident Keith Losoya.

What’s new: The Ritz-Carlton opens a condo building this fall, with some units going for more than $5 million.

Work in DC? Walk to the MARC station and be at Union Station in 50 minutes.

Why it beats Capitol Hill: The waterfront is already developed. Go sailing after work and eat crabs for dinner.

On the Web: Federal Hill Neighborhood Association (; Historic Federal Hill (;

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