Two Tales Of One City

On Saturday, the annual Baltimore Marathon was run. Saturday also featured “Fleet Week”, and in addition to ship tours, there would be a “Blue Angels” air show.  Excitement on the ground, on the water, and in the air.

The weather was superb and 10’s of thousand of Marylanders would visit the bustling Inner Harbor area and partake in the festivities. This Baltimore snapshot would make anyone proud to live there or nearby.

My wife and our daughter’s family were signed up to run in the accompanying 5K race. My job was to bring the youngest grandchild, a kindergartener, to her race (2/10ths of a mile) by nine o’clock. Ordinarily this would be a simple task but due to the marathon, half marathon and 5K, all direct routes were closed to through traffic. A work around would be necessary.

Coming from the north along I-83, my goal was to get to Camden Yards area. To accomplish this, I needed to leave the freeway and take to city streets cutting though west Baltimore. And this is where your senses go into overload.

Taking a major street (Pennsylvania Avenue), the scenery was reminiscent of “The Wire” with one boarded up row house after another. At each corner, there was someone approaching the car asking for money. Along the street there were single men aimlessly walking, apparently with no place to go (and most probably homeless). And if you told me the man and the boy I saw at one corner were doing drug business, I would not be surprised. This scene lasted at least well over a mile.

After turning onto MLK Boulevard, it was only a short time before I could see the modern M&T Bank Stadium (home of the NFL Ravens) and my destination. The world looked quite different from my tour of West Baltimore.

Baltimore is like many other large cities. There are sections which are devastatingly poor, some that look old and tired, and parts which are posh and exciting. Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and Sports Center complex is as nice and exciting as any city in America. The blight which characterized the ride through West Baltimore stems from a host of interconnected social reasons. A perplexing puzzle of opposites.

I wonder whether this is what Donald Trump was thinking when he promised to make America great again?

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