Get Your Stoop On!

The book Beyond the White Marble Steps: A Look at Baltimore Neighborhoods, stoop sitting is described as “the activity of sitting on the front steps of one’s row house with or without a favorite beverage, and conversing with neighbors and passers-by."

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While the act of hanging out on one’s front steps has been a Baltimore tradition since the early 1900s, stoop sitting has experienced a true resurgence over the past decade, thanks in part to “Stoop, Baltimore.” Stoop, Baltimore was founded by a group of Canton neighbors who were concerned by an uptick in crime, and felt that getting neighbors outside and connecting with each other could help make the community safer. To spread the word and their message, the group started a weekly event called “Stoop Night” to be held every Wednesday evening.

These days, Stoop Night is observed in ways both big and small. For some neighbors, it’s a time to simply sit and chat. For others, Stoop Night feels more like a block party. The smell of Old Bay wings and Roma sausages wafts through the alleys as folks fire up their grills. Friends sip specialty cocktails like the Curley Cosmo and Hudson Mule, named after neighborhood streets. Lawn chairs, coolers, kids, and pups line the chalk-colored sidewalks. Music fills the air, and sometimes couples break into a spontaneous merengue, while others team up for a game of cornhole.
 
No matter how you do it, stooping is a great way to meet your neighbors and make new friends, and it also serves a deeper purpose.

Canton local Javier Rodriguez thinks the purpose of Stoop Night is twofold. He explains, “For me, there are two big reasons why it's so great for the neighborhood to participate in Stoop Night. The most immediate reason is that it's fun to hang out and socialize with your neighbors.
 
“However, the most important reason is that you're participating in community building at one of the most fundamental levels possible. When you know and like your neighbors (and vice versa), you're more likely to look out for each other, which just makes your neighborhood a better place to live in,” says Rodriguez.
 
If you know your neighbor’s name and contact info and you think something is amiss, you can give them a call to double check. It’s also great when you need a little help shoveling snow or have an extra batch of brownies to share. A post on the Stoop, Baltimore Facebook page reads, “The idea was to get to know your neighbors and improve the lines of communication with them. Exchange numbers and vehicle info so that you can look out for each other easier.”

Stoop Night is officially held every Wednesday, but you don’t have limit your stoop time to one day a week. Stooping makes it easy to be friendly and keep an eye out for your neighbors every day. To join the Stoop, Baltimore Facebook group, visit facebook.com/StoopBaltimore/.

 Stoop Sitting, Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1930 Photograph by A. Aubrey Bodine (1906-1970) Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Maryland Historical Society

Stoop Sitting, Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1930 Photograph by A. Aubrey Bodine (1906-1970) Baltimore City Life Museum Collection, Maryland Historical Society