At the heart of downtown Annapolis lies a slip of water known as Ego Alley. Ego Alley is not marked by any sign. And the nautical charts make no mention of Ego Alley, showing only the “Market Slip” along the seawall at this tiny tidal waterway. The term Ego Alley is an invention of the last few decades, but the narrow basin has been at the core of Annapolis life for centuries.
In the Old Days, Ego Alley Belonged to the Watermen
Annapolis has been a working port for over three hundred years, and seafood packing houses and oyster shell middens once lined the waterfront. Skipjacks and workboats crowded City Dock well into the 1960s. In those days, the fishing vessels rafted side-by-side nearly filled the waterway that is now Ego Alley.
The watermen could almost walk across the channel from one side to the other on their adjoining rafted boats. Here they would gather after long work days on the water, downing a cold beer and whistling at the passersby. Over the years, the watermen’s boats were displaced by recreational pleasure boats parading their “egos” for those watching from the shore.
Today’s Ego Alley Brings a Parade of Pleasure Boats
Nowadays, Annapolis visitors can find Ego Alley on Google Maps and travel here to enjoy extraordinary views across Spa Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. Warm weather brings an endless parade of pleasure boats of all sizes cruising into Ego Alley and back out to Spa Creek. Folks with kids, cameras, and ice cream cones watch from the seawall as boat captains skillfully maneuver the tight turnaround in front of the historic Annapolis Market House.
We sometimes take the boat into Ego Alley—if the wind is light and there aren’t too many other vessels crowding the channel. For our onboard guests, the short cruise up Ego Alley and back again is a real treat.
It’s always entertaining for our own crew on the boat to have a front row look at City Dock, Main Street, and Market Space, all filled with people enjoying the day. From our perspective as we maneuver in the ongoing boat parade, we feel like fish in a fishbowl, with all eyes from the seawall directed at our boat.
We have to wonder, as we gaze at them and they stare at us—are they doing the sightseeing—or are we? Is it more fun to watch the boats from the shore or to watch the shore from the boats? Either way, Ego Alley can be good for the “ego” any day of the year.