Baltimore blues: Lessons from the waterfront and ‘The Wire’

As we made our way out of the bus station in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t help but think that “The Wire” had gotten it right.

For those not familiar with “The Wire”—and if you’re not familiar with it, by all means stop reading this post and go watch it—the show examines Baltimore, portraying it as a city of empty row houses, shattered windows, and neighborhoods abandoned but for the drug trade. We didn’t visit the city’s worst neighborhoods—Stringer, Marlo, and Omar were nowhere in sight—but we were nonetheless overwhelmed by the number of decrepit and condemned buildings, many of which looked like they hadn’t been touched in years. It was a sunny day, but the gray streets were largely devoid of people, and even the few green spaces we passed were littered with garbage. We’d never seen a major city in a state of such disrepair.

Baltimore building

But amid the deteriorating buildings and empty streets, one neighborhood was particularly teeming with economic activity: the Inner Harbor. Continue reading