I prefer the name Smaltimore over Charm City. One overly ambitious mayor attempted to brand Baltimore, “The City That Reads.” Perhaps because of our history, there is a pervasive grittiness and determination from those that live in the city. There’s also pride in the quirky; respect for the absurd. Think John Waters and Formstone. We have come to accept imperfections. Though pockmarked and littered, Baltimore alleys speak to our character.
Baltimore once contained a thriving middle class supported by physical, industrialized labor. In the 1950’s, the city observed the beginnings of a persistent population decline as the nature of work changed and socio-economic conditions deteriorated. Demand for shipping, steel processing, and automotive manufacturing declined leaving the local economy dominated by lower wage service jobs and an unbalanced contribution from higher wage, higher skilled science and health-focused occupations. The decline in population accelerated due to race riots in the late 1960’s and crippling drugs and blight in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Time heals all wounds, it seems, and signs of growth are emerging.
I frequently find myself exploring neighborhoods at night. I appreciate the quiet. The change in light soothes our coarseness and highlights our possibilities. Welcome to Bal’mer, Hon.