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Now and Then: A Look at Historical Ellicott City
By Ettay Webb
For BaltimoreStories.com

Today, strolling down the streets of Main Street in historical Ellicott City, you see a bustling, commercial town, reminiscent of downtown USA, but it’s a far cry from a town that once was one of the first market places for tobacco, then wheat. The city carries the name of three Quaker brothers who established this trading center in 1772, just four years prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

On a given day, the old and the new are in tact in this resilient town that has withstood natural disasters and fires which have challenged life and commerce over the years for residents and merchants of this small, quaint city with its narrow cobbled streets and very hilly landscape giving, an impression of Old Europe, or Washington’s Georgetown. For Ellicott City resident Lindsay Smith this town is one of the only remaining links to the past.

(Lindsay Smith/Ellicott City resident)
There really is no other place like Ellicott City with the history. I like the mystery of all the historical things, like the older architecture, things like that, I don’t know this place is just kinda like home to me its not so uptight its kinda laid back.

Ellicott City received its historical designation in 1973. But the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station which is in the middle of town was actually built in 1831. Other historical landmarks include St. Lukes African Methodist Episcopal Church, an old slave family church which still holds services. Benjamin Banneker the surveyor, who helped to lay out the nation’s capital, was born in Oella, just blocks from the existing flour mill.
But Ellicott City’s history isn’t the only reason why people want to visit. Columbia native Evan Suggs says the ever changing store fronts are a welcome part of his visit.

(Evan Suggs/visitor)
Um it does seem like some of the shops come and go especially the ones down here that don’t get a lot of people walking by them. I like that is different every time that I come.

If you were to walk down Main Street you would see jewelry shops, antique shops, bakeries, boutiques, a hardware store and a general store. You’d also find Walter Jackson owner of the Gramps Antique bookstore. Jackson says he likes running his own store and interacting with visitors.

(Walter Jackson/store owner)
All the shops are mostly own by the people who run them. Nice folks. Meet nice people on the street and when they come in the shop.

It's Jackson’s store along with all the others that people like National Trust Restoration Foundation worker Margie Fallon wants to see the town maintain its integrity.

(Margie Fallon/Ellicott City worker)
Well, it seems to me that the Ellicott City association and the people from Howard County do a fairly good job of protecting Ellicott City.

In 2005, CNN/Money ranked the city #20, of 100 best places to live in the United States, but come see for yourself. Oh, don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes in case you want to trek, jog or cycle through the scenic park across from the existing mill, where you can follow the streams, marvel at the rock formation, and take in the natural, fresh atmosphere of the area. For Baltimore Stories, I’m Ettay Webb.