Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Excerpts: Three Views of Locust Point

'The Sugar House'

"It was almost ten before Tess set out for Locust Point. Funny – she saw the neighborhood every day, from across the water, rowed her Alden along its ragged shore, yet all she really knew of Locust Point was Fort McHenry and the Domino Sugars sign, which she could see from the makeshift terrace outside her bedroom. She tried to remember to look at it every night, just before bed. So much had changed in Baltimore, it was reassuring to go to sleep with that static neon vision blazing red in her mind's eye. As a child, she thought God might be lurking behind the sign, because if she were God, that was where she would make her heaven. Atop a neon sign, overlooking Baltimore, guarding a mountain of sugar.

On a map, Locust Point looked cramped and narrow. Yet once Tess crossed Key Highway, there was a feeling of expansiveness, as if the sky were deeper here, the city miles away. She had heard rumors of yuppies, drawn by inexpensive rowhouses with water views, but there was little evidence of such an invasion. Even with the big employers disappearing – Procter & Gamble, the shipping jobs – the neighborhood was strikingly unchanged. One could imagine Locust Point inside a plastic globe, synthetic snow sifting down, no one ever getting in.

And no one ever getting out.

From The Sugar House, published in 2000.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Laura Lippman