Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Baltimore's Legacy

"Unlike New York, Chicago, Detroit,Boston, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, Baltimore is not usually a prominent part of the urban narrative. It should be.

Antero Pietila, Not in My Neighborhood

I've always wondered about that. There's good research and more than a handful of good books about Baltimore that illuminate the broader American urban experience. But Baltimore has never produced a school of thought or served as the representative type for a phase of city development. Think of housing disinvestment research, neighborhood politics, public/private partnerships, sports stadium politics, and urban regime analysis, to name a few topical areas. Baltimore's contributed.

I've sometimes concluded that Baltimore was missing a university that cared about the city and had the resources to bring new people in, train up scholars, and inspire work about the city. Baltimore certainly has Hopkins, Morgan State, parts of University of Maryland, and the University of Baltimore. But the urban, Baltimore focus has been sporadic.

In the end, maybe its just about size and luck of the draw. Lots of other cities are in a similar fix -- like Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis, and DC. Pietila wants to help boost Baltimore's historic urban role by recounting Baltimore's public and private innovations that furthered racial segregation. And thus the subtitle: "How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City."

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