Neighbors united to create this mural in diverse O'Donnell Heights

October 16, 2018

As cars approach the O'Donnell Heights Community Center on Gusryan Street on the edge of southeast Baltimore City, they are greeted with a colorful new mural, featuring a heart-shaped globe being held up by many hands. Surrounding the globe are red and orange houses -- much like those in the neighborhoods of O'Donnell Heights, Graceland Park, Medford and Broening Highway.

It's a symbol of unity in an area of Baltimore that is often overlooked. The mural-- designed and created by the community and supported in part by BCF's Neighborhood Grants Program -- was unveiled by community leaders and elected officials during a ceremony on October 12. 

O'Donnell Heights, Graceland Park, Medford and Broening Highway are neighborhoods affected by job loss and isolation from the rest of Baltimore City. Residents can recall the decades when General Motors' Baltimore Assembly plant was right down the street and many residents worked there. Today, the plant has been replaced by an Amazon distribution warehouse. There is no doubt that this neighborhood has changed greatly over the years. 

The area's residents, however, are not interested in being forgotten. That was part of the motivation behind the mural. The project was spearheaded by Zeke Cohen, Baltimore City Council member for the area, and members of the O'Donnell Heights Tenant Council. They obtained funding through BCF and a number of other funders in Baltimore, and engaged a local artist. Students from Graceland Park Elementary and Holabird Academy worked together to create designs for the mural, which the artist then projected onto a wall in front of the community center. Students and residents then worked together to paint the mural. 

"This has been, for a long time, a forgotten part of the city," says Miss Ella Broadway, president of the Tenant Council. "People drive past and they can see this mural and know that O'Donnell Heights is here. This means a lot to this community." 

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