Since moving to Japan, I have become an avid reader of the Columbia and Ellicott City Patch web sites. I think its my little way of staying connected to my Mid-Atlantic home. I recently read an article about Ken Ullman proposing a $3 million budget for upgrades in the Old EC area which would include updating a parking lot and repairing much of the damaged sidewalks in the area. Of course it triggered many memories of Old EC and made me realize how much I miss the HoCo area.
When my family first moved to Howard County, MD in 1999, I was instantly drawn to Old Ellicott City. Growing up in Birmingham, AL, I was never exposed to old historic mill towns such as the ones that pepper the northeast. Old EC has such charm and character that anyone with any interest in history would love it! And so I did.
In 2001 I got a job as a Barista at the Bean Hollow on Main Street, but back then it was called Riverside Coffee. I would get up and go to work at 5 AM, a miserable time for me, and work all day long serving coffee and sandwiches to the local people in Old Ellicott City. On my breaks I would spend my tips at Zebop or the Forget Me Not Factory on things I didn’t really need but I couldn’t resist buying. I worked at Riverside for about 9 months and during that time I met many people who would make an impression on me: every morning a man in his late 20s would come in and get a grande coffee (I officially became friends with him about a year later in a strange twist of events); a homeless man would come in ever so often with some change and buy something to eat or drink; a group of younger people who were all diverse and didn’t seem to be parts of the same puzzle would regularly come during the evenings and occupy a table in the back of the cafe – I later learned that many, if not all of them, were in recovery; and I could never forget the crazy man who would venture in and with his camera and ask to take photos of everyone in the restaurant (creepy!).
Time moved on and I stopped working at Riverside but I continued to visit Old Ellicott City. I continued to shop in the area since it had a plethora of stores, many with locally produced goods and items. I often tried to do Christmas shopping there so as to support local businesses. There has been a recent resurgence of shops in Old EC and they are full of cute little nick knacks that make great gifts!
About 2 years ago I hosted an engagement party at Portalli’s, an upscale restaurant and wine bar on Main Street. The night was cold and the roads were a bit icy, but the 20 or so of us managed to squeeze into this relatively small restaurant. The food was great, the company was better and the reason we were there was amazing: celebrating the union of two of our best friends.
When I became a photography enthusiast, Old Ellicott City was just the place I wanted to be! The textures of the old buildings offered great backdrops and the items found in stores made wonderful props. I would go there any time, day or night, just to photograph the surroundings.
Near the old Trolley stop is Ghost Town Odditorium, a tattoo shop that does some pretty good work, or so I’ve been told. I haven’t gotten a tattoo there, but I have accompanied someone who is knowledgeable and he informed me that one of the tattoo artists has designed work for Kidrobot’s Munnys, which has an interesting underground following. I was definitely impressed with not only the work that the tattoo artists did but also the setting: the interior of Ghost Town displays all types of odd memorabilia which seems to have popped out of the TV show Oddities.
About a year ago, a hookah bar (smoking hookah has become quite popular among many of my friends) opened on one of the side roads. It’s called Ghost Lounge Hookah Bar and while its small, it definitely was more convenient than going to Federal Hill or College Park. I only got to go once before I moved overseas, but I would guess that once I return home I’ll go back!
So as you can see, Old Ellicott City has a special place in my heart, and I might even go so far as to so it is my heart (in the northeast anyway!). I have always loved the little town on a hill, with all its quirks, and can’t wait to get back to it!