When renewing Baltimore’s iconic Lexington Market, reopening nearby Lexington Street and transforming it into a 17,000-sq. ft. pedestrian plaza was as vital to the success of the project as the new building’s construction. To activate the area, Ashton created interpretive signage that plots over 200 years of history alongside the reintroduction of 40 trees and thousands of native perennials and grasses, designed by landscape architect Floura Teeter.
We worked with a local historian, steeped in the market’s past, to develop the interactive content outline. While much of it is food-focused, panels also highlight past events and traditions (like the famous crab derby and circus elephant pilgrimage). More importantly, the content does not shy away from serious topics, including the role of immigrant-owned businesses and the presence of slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Panels also provide context for the over $400,000 of public art found on site, all of which were created by local artists.
The signage is rendered as durable, powder-coated graphics, so they, like the artwork, will stand the test of time.
Eight of the interpretive signs feature a secondary “rubbing panel.” Metal plaques with relief illustrations allow kids of all ages to create a take-home memento. Paper and crayons are available at the market’s information center.
The rubbings’ custom illustrations feature signature and historic items exemplary of the market: just-caught seafood, fresh produce, the historic market’s shed facade, and the market bell.
A timeline embedded in the hardscape tracks the market’s physical changes, from its 1782 founding to its most recent building. These key events are etched into long metal panels and plotted around the perimeter of the plaza.
Nearby signage also places Lexington Market within the context of the larger Baltimore Public Market System, the oldest in the country.