Downtown Baltimore has just added some spice to the city's crosswalks, replacing the traditional, faded white lines with clever graphics created by area artists.
The city wanted something distinctive to improve the pedestrian experience in downtown Baltimore's new Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District. Starting a few weeks ago, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts began unveiling its series of artist-designed crosswalks, the first of which featured a giant zipper stretching across the street, designed by painter Paul Bertholet.
The second, which premiered this week, features a playful hopscotch design from Graham Coreil-Allen, an artist whose projects "test the boundaries of pedestrian agency," according to his website's artist statement. Coreil-Allen is no stranger to crosswalk design: In a city where many like to play their own game of Frogger and risk a dash through city traffic, Coreil-Allen created a colorful crosswalk to alert drivers to a common jaywalking route used during last year's Transmodern Festival.
In his "Hopscotch Crosswalks Colossus" each hopscotch court features what he calls "a quintessential Baltimore path-print." A shoe represents a business person going east toward the city's skyscrapers, a bird track walks toward the city's two stadiums—where the Orioles and the Ravens play—a boot represents a city labor worker, while a footprint evokes the barefoot artists of the arts district where the crosswalks have been installed.
The final crosswalk, called "the monster," will be unveiled during the spring, when the weather warms up enough to allow it to be installed on the concrete.
Baltimore isn't the first city to explore the idea of creative crossings. Chicago's "Color Jam," transformed one busy intersection into a crosswalk painting for the summer of 2012, though it had to shut down early due to the wear and tear of scuffing feet. Let's hope these can stand the test of time.
[Hat tip: The Baltimore Sun]