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The Maryland Curiosity Bureau

Could Baltimore City & County Ever Unite?

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Aaron Henkin
Today, Baltimore County dwarfs Baltimore City in size, wealth, and population. Did it have to end up this way?

Listener Kate Jakuta asks, “Why isn’t Baltimore City part of Baltimore County? And could the city and the county ever join in the future?” It’s a mystery that hopscotches us through time to the founding of Baltimore Town in 1729, the rewriting of the State Constitution in 1851, and a sly ballot referendum in 1948, which adds up to an unfortunate result for the city. While other US cities continue to grow by annexing land from surrounding counties, Baltimore’s city/county line has been frozen in place for more than 70 years. Is there a way to unbind the city? And is there a political will to make it happen?

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The Villena family (Oswaldo, Carmen, and Carolyn) stand in the archway between their living room, which is in Baltimore City, and their dining room, which is in Baltimore County. (Photo credit: Aaron Henkin / WYPR)

This episode we hear from:

The Villena family, whose house is bisected by the city/county line

Matthew Crensen, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University, and author of Baltimore: A Political History

Ron Cassie, Senior Editor and Political Reporter at Baltimore Magazine. Check out Ron’s article, How To Fix Baltimore

Don Hutchinson, former County Executive of Baltimore County

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.