Hampden is often thought of as being a “village in a city.” Meaning, you have the sense of community within the conveniences of a city. Great food, amazing art scene, fantastic people.
Big ideas with a small town vibe.
While Hampden has always had that warm community feel, the modernization that has occurred over the past decade or so is definitely something many long-time residents are still getting used to.
One of the best things about this neighborhood is just that. There’s a storied past behind the streets of the latest trends. So whether you’ve just moved to the area or you’ve been here for a while, here’s a brief look at Hampden’s interesting story.
Named for English politician John Hampden, in 1802, the town of Hampden first got its roots started as a home for workers in the mills from Jones Fall Valley.
A group of mill-owning families took advantage of the rushing waters of the Jones Falls to establish several neighboring mill villages. The town caught its stride and actually helped produce 80% of the world’s duck cotton by the late 1800s.
Many of its residents came to the area from Kentucky, West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania, due to the abundance of jobs the mills were providing. This influx helped to solidify the image of this working-class neighborhood.
By the turn of the 20th century, Hampden held one of the country’s largest workforces and impressively aided the war efforts in World Wars I and II. But by the 1970s, the mills began to die along with the demand for the cotton duck they were once famous for. For a while Hampden seemed to be a little lost in trying to find its new identity.
Over the past few decades, Hampden has begun to find a new stride. The community of working class, artists, and young professionals have helped Hampden thrive again. Hampden has just about completely reinvented itself. Factories, churches, and office spaces are being remodeled and repurposed, attracting many trendy millennials and creating an eclectic feel.
As you’re strolling around town, you may not even realize you’re walking around one of the recently named hottest neighborhoods in the country. How did this all come about from that once humble little working-class town?
Well, back in the 1990s, Hampden began to get revitalized by new residents interested in the art scene. Studios and office spaces like the Mill Centre brought even more people in.
Over the past ten years or so, housing prices have really begun to soar. Hampden’s commercial center, known as The Avenue, has turned what was a sad or vacant space into an area booming with restaurants, trendy boutiques, galleries, a yoga studio, and even an upscale wine bar. With transportation being such a big deal for urban neighborhoods, bus lines and the Light Rail have helped to open up Hampden for both residents and visitors.
Many tourists and visitors now travel to 36th Street to dine, shop, visit art galleries, and experience the neighborhood. Many other new exciting projects have begun to spur even more economic activity to the area.
With all that being said, of course the housing market in Hamden has been booming. Many houses are being renovated and restored to meet the demand of the incoming residents.
In 2004 the city registered the Hampden Historic District with the National Register of Historic Places. The Hampden Historic District is approximately 400 acres of residential and commercial area initially created for the 19th century textile milling. So even though the future is bright for the busy upcoming town of Hampden, residents can still bask in the history of that humble working-class town.
Both its history and its future have many residents feeling quite lucky to live in such a unique and fun town.