Among the major concerns of the Cherry Hill community is a long-standing perception that it has been unfairly treated in the delivery of transit service. Cherry Hill is a predominately black, low-to-moderate income community that was created by public forces following WW II, resulting in one of the Baltimore region’s first planned public housing community. Residents feel that this history has created a stigma that has resulted in its receiving unequal levels of public services and inaccurate perceptions as to community stability, reliability of workers, crime rates and drug use. Located just south of the central city, it traditionally enjoyed good transit access to the city, major activity centers and the region. When the MTA’s new Central Light Rail Line went into service in the early 1990s, resulting in service losses that they feel have never been acknowledged or addressed.
The Cherry Hill community is geographically located in the southern section of Baltimore City. Cherry Hill covers more than 300 acres south of the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River and west of Hanover Street. It is located just over the Hanover Street Bridge, which is really at the foot of the city. The Middle Branch, north of the Patapsco River, Hanover Street, Waterview Avenue and the west and south ends of the Baltimore Light Rail system, bound the Cherry Hill community. The area is comprised of Census Tracts 2502.03, 2502.04 and 2502.07. The community is located south of the Inner Harbor/Central Business District of Baltimore City. The Cherry Hill community was established in the late 1940s when the Housing Authority of Baltimore chose it as the site of a federal project for African American war workers migrating from the South. In those days of segregated housing, no neighborhood in the city was available for an influx of African American. “In 1944, a 600-unit project was launched under federal auspices. But even earlier, three private developers had pushed ahead with plans of their own to construct a total of more than 670 units. Before the federal housing was ready, however, the war had ended. It was opened for occupancy in December 1945, in a scene of mud and snow. War veterans had preference among applicants. Settlers there included a number servicemen who were studying under the GI Bill and who would go on up to productive careers.
Many people living in the private housing in those early years were widows and pensioners, a stable group of homeowners. Until the early 1950s, remembers Mr. Burge, founder of the “Cherry Hill News” paper, the community “was cut out to be a middle-income area.” The pressures from the inner city, including the need to relocate families dispossessed by urban renewal, brought about a far-reaching change in the population makeup. A large percentage of new residents were fatherless households of people who were not going anywhere but were doing well to survive. Over the years, Cherry Hill has developed many of the problems that go with poverty among families lacking a male head. Developed as a planned community for African-American veterans returning from World War II, the Cherry Hill community today has about 7,700 residents and is still largely population by African-American. The Cherry Hill community has a Democratic stronghold that includes a handful of middle-class homeowners and renters, and many public housing residents. Today Cherry Hill is mostly residential area with apartment complexes, row houses, and public housing projects. Some of the public housing has been demolished leaving large tracts of land in the middle of the community that can be redeveloped in the future. In the midst of Cherry Hill is a shopping center and on the fringes are industry and the Middle Branch Park. Buses serve the neighborhood as does a light rail stop. Access to Interstate highways and downtown Baltimore is facilitated by the Light Rail system and Hanover Street.