What is the GBA?
The Govanstowne Business Association (GBA) was established in 1980 as one of ten Retail Business Districts (RBDs) in Baltimore. RBDs are mandatory business associations established by the Baltimore City Council. The GBA encompasses all businesses from the city county line to 43rd Street along the York Road corridor; roughly 250 businesses are located within its boundaries.
All businesses in the GBA district pay RBDL fees to the City based on square footage. The City then channels the majority of those funds to the GBA. The GBA budget provides for the organization and implementation of business promotions, beautification projects and special events.
History of Govanstowne
Govanstowne is a diverse community of 20 neighborhoods and a variety of businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations along the York Road corridor in North Baltimore. Its roots go back to 1783, when Govans was established as a cross-road village on the York Turnpike that took merchants and travelers between Baltimore and York, Pa. The village was named after William Govans, who moved to the area in the 1750s.
In those days, Govans was populated with gentlemen’s estates, summer homes and farms. In the 1870s, the area began to develop with the installation of the Horse-Car Railway. A variety of commercial and residential properties were built, including several churches that still stand today, such as Govans Presbyterian (1845) and St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church (1849). By 1881, Greater Govans had a population of just over 1,200.
Business began to expand in scale and diversity as the Horse-Car Railway was electrified. By the 1920s, York Road in Govans was a thriving Main Street that catered to the newly built surrounding neighborhoods. The Pen-Lucy, Radnor Winston, Wilson Park, Homeland, Cedarcroft, and Lake Walker neighborhoods offered a variety of architectural styles including foursquares, Queen Anne style cottages, Colonial revival farmhouses, duplexes, and rowhouses.
Today, these neighborhoods are celebrated for their history, livability and beautiful design. Wilson Park, one of Baltimore’s first African-American suburbs, was developed by ground-breaking African-American real estate developer Harry Wilson. Homeland was planned and designed under the guidance of the Olmsted brothers, nationally recognized planners and landscape architects. Cedarcroft and Lake Evesham have also recently been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now a new generation of Baltimoreans are enjoying the lovely homes, convenient location, and diverse commercial establishments of Govanstowne. The area boasts Belvedere Square, with its diverse selection of restaurants, specialty food merchants, and boutiques; the historic Senator Theater; and a variety of restaurants offering everything from burgers and fries to ethnic specialties. The proximity of Loyola University of Maryland and Notre Dame of Maryland University add to the community’s vibrant feel.