Tucked away in a little grassy strip near a busy highway is what appears to be a queen on her throne. Although the territory she reigns over is small (and mainly used by pet owners from the surrounding neighborhood to relieve their dogs), her stately demeanor is unwavering.
I first stumbled upon the statue on a hot, late summer walk around Reservoir Hill. Immediately, I was confused. Surely, this fine piece of sculpture did not mean to end up in such an inconsequential spot! After moving back some overgrown grass, I noticed a dark plaque on the base. It read: ”St. Paul Street Bridge; J. H. Tegmeyer; City Commissioner; C. H. Latrobe; Engineer; 1880.” While I might be the best with names and directions, I was 99% sure I had never heard of the St. Paul Street Bridge.
After doing some research, it turns out that there had been a lovely bridge on St. Paul Street overlooking the Jones Falls Valley waterway until the 1960s. This sculpture, called Lady Baltimore, was carved by Herman D. A. Henning as part of the decoration for the bridge. The statue, along with three other identical ones, once adorned the bridge’s entrance and exit.
However, in the mid-twentieth century, the bridge was demolished to create a modern expressway for cars (known as the JFX today). Some of the statues remained in the city, while one was gifted to the town of Baltimore, Ireland. In 1979, this lady quietly appeared as the centerpiece in a tiny park flanking the very expressway that caused its removal.
The description accompanying the photograph above writes:
This is one of four statues said to represent Lady Baltimore which guarded the entrance to the St. Paul St. bridge until 1960, when the bridge was rebuilt and the statues stored. In 1974, one of the four was sent as a gift of the city to Baltimore, Ireland, and the remaining three were set up at Cylburn. A neighborhood group persuaded Cylburn to part with one and themselves did the work of installation. The other two remain at Cylburn.
Below are some renders of my favorite details from the statue: