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After 4 years here post-college (and 26 years since I was born here at Hopkins), I think I've come to the realization that there is something very critical missing from Baltimore. It just doesn't have the energy, enthusiasm, culture that other cities do, even ones of similar size and smaller. I think that the city has been so poor, and it's government so corrupt for so long, that the citizens can barely keep their heads above water much less establish a vibrant culture.

As John Adams (during the Revolution) once said: "I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy...in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture..."

We've been at war with drugs, violence, apathy and corruption for so long, that each generation finds themselves at square one, with no opportunity to develop and plant the roots for a creative renaissance. My opinion, and this opinion may be entirely wrong, is that the future of American cities is not economic, but rather cultural, as our manufacturing needs and even service and medical needs move offshore and are delegated to machines. Innovation, entertainment, creativity (intellectual property), engineering and design will drive the economy (IDEAS). And innovators and creatives flock to vibrant cities due to the incredible importance of peer inspiration in those fields.

Do you see Baltimore becoming a city that can succeed in this "new creative economy"?
 

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Baltimore has a lot of room to grow culturally, but for me many of the cultural aspects that are absent from Baltimore are in many cases qualities that I am, in fact, glad we are missing. Baltimore may have an industrial past, but its culture has never been manufactured. Baltimore's culture has always been natural and dynamic - agricultural, if you will follow the metaphor.

One of my all-time favorite writers, Bill Bryson, once said while visiting Milan that a city, like a person, can either be rich or it can be charming, but it can't be both. Well, we know which of those Baltimore is. Now, that's not to say that the poorest cities are the most charming, but rarely, if ever, does a city that focuses too much of economic growth develop a truly organic culture in the process. I, like Bryson, have traveled Europe minimally, and although I couldn't bring myself to say that any part of Europe is lacking in the culture department, I found that the richest cities - Milan, Brussels, Geneva, Munich - were also the dullest, least enthusiastic (Milan, of course, being measured by Italian standards, which very well could be the strictest standards on the planet).

I've found the same to be true about American cities. Philadelphia, Portland and New Orleans are three cities that I've found to be incredibly unique, which for me is perhaps the most important cultural trait that a city can possess.

Anyway, it's difficult to say how Baltimore's economics have impacted the city's culture over the last few decades, but I do not think it would be an overstatement to say that the city is undergoing a cultural revolution at this very moment. Baltimore's modern music scene is the best it's been in my lifetime, and for the first time that I can remember, clearly distinguishable from that of any other city. Baltimore's art scene is blossoming as well. There are original, quality restaurants opening up every week nearly. Granted, these things are the things we deem cultural because it is what our culture and others tell us are "cultural," but its a start nonetheless, I should think. There's also an awareness of being in Baltimore that I think was missing for a while. In my experience, people are starting to take notice that Baltimore really is a great place to live, and they're talking about it. I can't remember that happening too often before.

Plus, people here are really, really friendly, for the most part. What more could you ask for? Baltimore is a quality of life type city, one of the few left in America it seems. I'm content with the city and looking forward to the future :cheers:
 

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I have a long history here and while I have been in the place that you describe, I'm real pleased with how things have changed here, especially during the past 10 years. My assessment at this point is that Baltimore isn't a major center like NY or LA and never will be, but it's pretty good for a mid sized city and has a uniqueness and personality that the more august places lack. In regard to major culture, we have two sizable art museums, one classical and the other more contemporary, and a large number of smaller galleries. Musically we have an excellent symphony, a good opera company, several theaters and a Broadway venue.

Compared to when I was growing up, the number of smaller local music venues has just exploded in recent years. In addition to the smaller places, the Ram's Head Live is ranked as one of the US's largest venues.

In addition to all this, I have several family members who live from art and the small gallery art scene around here has also exploded. I attend somewhat regular openings in Hampden, Woodberry, Fells Point, Canton, etc and those are part of a much larger local art scene that I couldn't imagine growing up here, when art was the mall's Thomas Kinkaide store. I believe that Artscape (coming up next month) continues as the nation's largest free art festival, with loads of stuff to look at, buy and listen to. It seems that I also recall a few years ago when a major publication (something like Money or Fortune) named Baltimore as one of the top cultural cities in the US. Behives and Hon's notwithstanding, you can really find a lot here.
 

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As a transplant, I have come to appreciate Baltimore's culture over the past two years. I think the music scene is lacking relative to my hometown, but I agree that as an art center, it has a dynamic, vital scene. I am an amateur photographer and have found much inspiration in the architecture, geography, food, bars, and people here. There are many transplants, which I think signal the sign of a culturally attractive city. While jobs probably pull people here, if a culture was lacking, considering the prevalent poverty and crime, these people would not stay long. While I have other friends who have already or will leave relatively soon, I plan on sticking around for the indefinite future. When I arrived here, I didn't see me staying more than three or four years. Now I agree it is an exciting time to be in Baltimore which is why I plan on staying.
 

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:) Relax, Dear Baltimore! Time will teach Many that " cosmetic changes " don't really change a city's nature. Skyscrapers, arenas, and other grand structures aren't what really make cities " great " ! After each is built, most everyone moves on to the next. Yet, not one of those projects can produce the true charm in " Charm City " .

Baltimore will always be Baltimore! This beautiful city won't nor should try to emulate New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, or anywhere else. What Baltimore should do is be the BEST Baltimore possible! What does that mean? It means capitalize off Baltimore's unique culture, heritage, etc. Cities, like people, are best when not trying to be something they're not !

Baltimore has a lot of great things going for It.... besides the " bricks and mortar " . Rejoice in It, but NEVER take it for granted. It's prosperity could end at any moment. Remember also that Great cities, like Baltimore, don't happen overnight! So, what's not to love about It?
 

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:) Relax, Dear Baltimore! Time will teach Many that " cosmetic changes " don't really change a city's nature. Skyscrapers, arenas, and other grand structures aren't what really make cities " great " ! After each is built, most everyone moves on to the next. Yet, not one of those projects can produce the true charm in " Charm City " .

What an abused and overused statement on this forum. The built environment is just as important as all the other parts, from the Baltimore Rowhome to the Bank of America Tower. The most distinguishing aspect of any city IMO is the architecture "people culture" could be due to many other variables like a majority ethnicity or the "culture" can spread far beyond the city boundary into a whole region.

The built environment is a reflection of our social values. One could say instead that the aspirations, culture, economy of a city are reflected in it's skyline.
 

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I agree

Baltimore is a great town. How many cities in the country have over 5,000 rowhomes rehabed that were built in the 1700's/1800's(Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas?). How many cities have food markets similar to(Cross Street, Lexington and Broadway markets)? How many cities have the attractions we have now(Geppi, Museum of Industry, Visonary Art, Ft. Mchenry, Babe Ruth Museum, Science Center,etc..) Baltimore also has about 75,000 to 100,000 people living downtown with household incomes 80,000 and above. Alot of cities do not have this going on. Our downfall right now is crime. It has improved this year with drops of 30% in homicides/shootings. If we could cut homicides/shootings another 20% to 30% and buildup Harbor East/Point, Westport, Greektown, Port Covington, State Center,etc.. it would be a top 10 city.


:) Relax, Dear Baltimore! Time will teach Many that " cosmetic changes " don't really change a city's nature. Skyscrapers, arenas, and other grand structures aren't what really make cities " great " ! After each is built, most everyone moves on to the next. Yet, not one of those projects can produce the true charm in " Charm City " .

What an abused and overused statement on this forum. The built environment is just as important as all the other parts, from the Baltimore Rowhome to the Bank of America Tower. The most distinguishing aspect of any city IMO is the architecture "people culture" could be due to many other variables like a majority ethnicity or the "culture" can spread far beyond the city boundary into a whole region.

The built environment is a reflection of our social values. One could say instead that the aspirations, culture, economy of a city are reflected in it's skyline.
 

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:eek:hno: Why are You so insecure about Baltimore's skyline, Silver Springer and fanofterps? You're missing My point about substance. You're basing ALL of Baltimore's value upon buildings and statistics! Do You honestly believe the ONLY things that make other cities like London, Paris, Rome, New York City, etc. are Those city's buildings? If so, You've got much to learn about civic greatness. For, Those city's were great long before most of those structures, including skyscrapers, ever existed. Commerce and finance, the arts, educational offerings, geopolitical and social status, population, etc. distinguish Those city's from the rest.

I pity ANY city's residents insecure enough to believe It has no worth unless It has a " big city " skyline! Now, If YOU still prefer to wallow in insecurity to NYC's or Philly's skyline, I won't stop You. But with SO many cities across the globe transforming Their skylines, Who is It exactly that You're trying to impress with a " big city " skyline? Learn the storied history of Baltimore that brought It fame. I can assure You, IT was more than It's architecture. And, learn how to accept a compliment! You would think I " trashed " Baltimore judging by Your responses.
 

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Baltimore is actually a cultural landmark in the U.S. I do not remember what U.S. organization said this, but they are trying to keep Baltimore's culture historically preserved. I am not from Baltimore but I have been in this city for 3 years now and I feel some pride in knowing that. The culture here is very rural to me and I think this city is very nice, but too crowded for my tastes. The architecture I think is the fourth best in the nation. I think that something is missing, I will agree with you on that. I honestly think that if the quality of life goes up in this city , then maybe that "essence" will appear.
 

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^^ Baltimore is one of THE oldest city's in the U.S. It has a rich history dating back to colonial times. It's rich American history became secondary to economic prosperity during the age of Industrial Revolution and pre-World War II population growth. The " something missing " or essence You're alluding to is a distinction that makes famous cities like San Francisco or New Orleans unique in character. Which isn't to say such places don't have, some, common franchises (ex; Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, etc.). Baltimore like many cities spends billions attempting to make It, especially downtown, a 24/7 mecca. THAT occurred once It's own residents believed and began investing in It.

Too many cities are becoming misguided in trying to compete with NYC, Chicago, or NOW Dubai with supersized skylines and civic structures in vain attempts to attract international attention. There's nothing wrong with ANYWHERE trying to improve Itself, so long as that purpose is for Itself. Too often, former " rust belt " cities seek the praise from elite cities for validation. An " OOOH, LOOK AT ME " mentality has pervaded cities like Baltimore in expecting the national and international media to acknowledge and applaud Them. It AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! Baltimore's best solution is to discover and tout what makes It different from elsewhere. Then, and only then, will the rest of " the world " will take notice.
 

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They definitely need to stop feeding the downtown monster and focus on creating urban centers in places that need them i.e. West Baltimore. I think that the shopping center in Northwood is about to undergo extensive revamping.
 

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They definitely need to stop feeding the downtown monster and focus on creating urban centers in places that need them i.e. West Baltimore. I think that the shopping center in Northwood is about to undergo extensive revamping.
Why not do both? In recent years, the development of downtown has made peripheral neighborhoods more viable by example. Success stories like the Avenue in Hampden and Belvedere Square probably would not have happened without the perception created by the successes of downtown. It's interesting that you mention Northwood. I lived there some years ago, and recall what a disappointment it was that the strip was pretty much useless to me. Many people could have been a short drive or even a walk from there, but went to the burbs. I would like to see it come back. Ironically, in its day it was thought of as one of the original suburban shopping centers.
 

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Why not do both? In recent years, the development of downtown has made peripheral neighborhoods more viable by example. Success stories like the Avenue in Hampden and Belvedere Square probably would not have happened without the perception created by the successes of downtown. It's interesting that you mention Northwood. I lived there some years ago, and recall what a disappointment it was that the strip was pretty much useless to me. Many people could have been a short drive or even a walk from there, but went to the burbs. I would like to see it come back. Ironically, in its day it was thought of as one of the original suburban shopping centers.
Many Baltimore natives absolutely do not like downtown at all and refuse to go there. Surprised me though to learn that. Also being to walk to available resources. I use that shopping center regularly and it is a life saver for the students at MSU there. Yeah it has "declined" but it is always packed and exactly what could go there to replace what is there?
 

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Many Baltimore natives absolutely do not like downtown at all and refuse to go there. Surprised me though to learn that. Also being to walk to available resources. I use that shopping center regularly and it is a life saver for the students at MSU there. Yeah it has "declined" but it is always packed and exactly what could go there to replace what is there?
At one time, the east end of the strip had a full scale department store, which went down. By the time I got there, the supermarket was grim and basically had nothing I wanted to eat. My first experience in the liquor store was when I bought a six pack the the guy behind the counter asked if I wanted six bags to go with it (for real). The abandoned parking lot behind the defunct deparment store was where you took your beers in the bags. Considering that the area is basically middle class, I don't see why the strip couldn't support a decent supermarket, and a bunch of stores, a less grim parking lot and a restaurant. Of course, preserving the Haven is a must; this is THE haven for local jazz fans.There seems to be a plan germinating for something that looks pretty decent and that would be an asset in the neighborhood.

As for the downtown-0-phobes, what can I say...I know them too.
 

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I like the haven, but it can be dangerous there sometimes... out in the parking lot.. its rare, but there have been shootings out there. I wish there were more jazz spots, especially downtown and in towson. Pisces sometimes has live piano and singing but its like one night a week at most.
 

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There is plenty of culture in Baltimore. We have great museums, a world class symphony, the opera, broadway shows, interesting history, football and baseball, beautiful old and new achitecture, and some great classic resturaunts.

What Baltimore needs is a critical mass of residents living in the city to participate in that culture. One other thing Baltimore needs is an easy way to get around the city to be part of the culture we have. The city and state need to step up to the plate and make these reality.
 

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There is plenty of culture in Baltimore. We have great museums, a world class symphony, the opera, broadway shows, interesting history, football and baseball, beautiful old and new achitecture, and some great classic resturaunts.

What Baltimore needs is a critical mass of residents living in the city to participate in that culture. One other thing Baltimore needs is an easy way to get around the city to be part of the culture we have. The city and state need to step up to the plate and make these reality.

You can only do so many feasability studies and chase away so many highrises. Where are the visionaries that came up with the Inner Harbor and central business district when you need them? There needs to be a master plan for the whole city and we need to move forward with it. This way our cultural experience will grow and visitors won't think Baltimore culture is some plot of land we call the Inner Harbor. We have come a long way and we have so much potential.
 

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^^ Baltimore is one of THE oldest city's in the U.S. It has a rich history dating back to colonial times. It's rich American history became secondary to economic prosperity during the age of Industrial Revolution and pre-World War II population growth. The " something missing " or essence You're alluding to is a distinction that makes famous cities like San Francisco or New Orleans unique in character. Which isn't to say such places don't have, some, common franchises (ex; Starbucks, Krispy Kreme, etc.). Baltimore like many cities spends billions attempting to make It, especially downtown, a 24/7 mecca. THAT occurred once It's own residents believed and began investing in It.

Too many cities are becoming misguided in trying to compete with NYC, Chicago, or NOW Dubai with supersized skylines and civic structures in vain attempts to attract international attention. There's nothing wrong with ANYWHERE trying to improve Itself, so long as that purpose is for Itself. Too often, former " rust belt " cities seek the praise from elite cities for validation. An " OOOH, LOOK AT ME " mentality has pervaded cities like Baltimore in expecting the national and international media to acknowledge and applaud Them. It AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN! Baltimore's best solution is to discover and tout what makes It different from elsewhere. Then, and only then, will the rest of " the world " will take notice.
Good points, but I think your fonts might soon give me a seizure.
 
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