Today, a conversation about Baltimore. People call it different things: Charm City or Mobtown, the City That Reads or the City That Bleeds, but whatever you call it, Baltimore holds an important place in the hearts of most of the folks who live here.
Our town, like many American cities, is a place of contradictions. We are home to some of the best medical centers in the country, yet there is a 10 or 12 year difference in life expectancy from one neighborhood to another. We have a vibrant creative community that helps us maintain a solid reputation as quirky and eclectic, and an inferiority complex that has us question our worth relative to places like Boston or Philadelphia. Baltimore is smaller, more affordable and more intimate than New York, but our murder rate per 100,000 people is 10 times that of our northern counterpart. Multi-million dollar homes in the Inner Harbor and Guilford are within walking distance of streets that have more boarded-up homes than occupied ones.
There are many reasons for these disparities, and as a new book by an eminent political scientist makes clear, there are ample historical precedents for our current predicaments. Matthew Crenson is professor emeritus of political science at Johns Hopkins University. His new book traces the development of Baltimore from colonial times through the present day. It’s called Baltimore: A Political History. He joins Tom for the hour.