Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Baltimore Tourism Day, May 6th and Baltimore Tourism Week, May 7th- 13th

National Tourism Week starts this Sunday.

Baltimore is celebrating its own Tourism Week during National Tourism Week.  (Note that World Tourism Day is in late September.)
Baltimore Tourism Day, May 6th, 2017, route map
As part of their program, they have created Baltimore Tourism Day on Saturday May 6th, and they will offer three different  free bus routes for the day so that people can explore different neighborhoods, retail and restaurants, and attractions around the city ("Visit Baltimore wants to use free bus tour to promote neighborhoods," Baltimore Business Journal).

From the article:
Baltimore is known for its neighborhoods and the city's tourism agency is hoping to show off what the areas have to offer with a free hop on, hop off bus for a day.

Visit Baltimore will run the promotion as part of Baltimore Tourism Day on May 6. ... The goal is to get locals and tourists alike to explore all parts of the city with the guided bus tours. Buses will run on one of three loops acrss Baltimore. The first loop will take riders from the Inner Harbor into Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton, Highlandtown and Mount Vernon before returning to downtown.

The second loop starts in Mount Vernon and goes on to show off Charles Village, Hampden, Woodbury, Remington and Pennsylvania Avenue The final loop will explore Lexington Market, Pigtown, Federal Hill, Fort McHenry and the Camden Yards Sports Complex. ...

Each bus is free and an entire loop would take about an hour, but guests can get off and on at any of the stops. Tour guides will be on board throughout to talk about attractions and offer suggestions. Buses will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All riders will receive a lanyard when boarding that can be shown at a number of local restaurants and attractions for discounts throughout the day.
-- Guide with map of the routes and listing of special offers

I think this is an interesting model that other cities and/or urban districts ought to consider trying out.

Baltimore Visitor Center.  Unlike DC, Baltimore also has a top notch visitor center, located on the Inner Harbor.

It's complemented by a network of visitor centers across the State of Maryland, funded in part by the Maryland Office of Tourism Development, a unit of the State Department of Commerce.

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At 8:50 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Shame that the Carnegie Library was never mooted as visitor center.

Would love to see a Museum of the District of Columbia, however.

Hyra's book gets the Post treatment. Pretty out of date. I see his has shifted his original thesis quite a bit.

At 9:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually I like Hyra's concept of small stores as meeting places for disparate sectors of the population [ I am very tired of the buzzword" demographic"] - we need more small businesses in DC and less onerous taxes on small businesses in DC- the city actively shakes down all small businesses and does whatever they can to discourage them[us].

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I have the book, I haven't read it yet. Meant to see him talk last week, but it conflicted with the CG/LA reception -- I felt compelled to go because it was in the Trump Hotel, one of the only times I'll probably walk into it.

... when I criticized one of the arguments in the Montreal presentation, he did say something to the effect of "that is only one element of the book."

It sounds too white privilegy I suppose, but I think it's reasonable to say "why not spend money on dog parks or bike lanes as we are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on recreation centers and bus services?"

That was my response to his point about the dog park, that you can't use the fact that at that moment, the basketball court was in need of rehabilitation to say that the city wasn't spending money on recreation assets and programs for the non-dog park demographic.

Of course, it was what, 3-4 years ago, when the city under Mayor Gray invested in playground rehabilitation. I criticized the move at the time, not for the need, but because it was done without "a master plan."

I can say today I was definitely wrong. First, the rehabs were absolutely needed. Second, it might yet help reshape DPR's planning regime (sadly, they offered me a job, but then reneged). Third, it helped lead into the "Play DC Master Plan" which isn't a master plan as much as it is a framework, but it's decent. (Partly because they had a good consultant team.)

At 10:14 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

the stores as places argument goes back to Ray Oldenburg's books on "The Third Place." Coffee shops are the best example, or a neighborhood diner. Even chain coffee shops have bulletin boards.

Here, Busboys and Poets on 14th St. would be the best example, with cafe, meeting room, book nook.

A similar but maybe better space is Red Emma's in Baltimore. It has a large "sitting" area, kind of communal, for the cafe that is large enough for meetings and presentations -- better than the B&P space. And they have a separate meeting room too. The heart is a "radical bookstore" which is run as a business cooperative. I think the cafe is run separately.

There are also communal type arty spaces, like Bloombar in Columbia Heights, sort of Electric Maid in Takoma.

And social halls at churches. They were the foundation of the DC punk movement, Minor Threat etc.

At 10:24 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Re moving the goalposts:

If you remember when I first read about hyra -- 3 years ago? -- his thesis was Shaw "resisted" gentrification because of ownership.

RE: "Living the Wire"; the Wire went off HBO in what 2009? Retained a cultural hold until 2012? come on.

Land is a zero sum game. Life is not.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Yes. I met a then PhD student who worked with him, we talked about this, in 2011. I argued with her that what he thought was static was dynamic and temporal, and that Shaw was "resistant" as a function of transit access -- the Green Line opened in the early 1990s -- and the state of build out of more desirable areas. As more central areas were built out, redevelopment moved north.

And we can't discount the importance of "quality development" re/urbanizing places. E.g., on U St. it was Donatelli, who built the Ellington, which is a nice, attractive building.

That anchored the change. And encouraged other quality developers, specifically JBG, for later stages. (I've been meaning to write about that, and it happens I saw a presentation about what they did last Fri. Lots to write...)

It could have been a disaster, had the development been more like the senior housing on the back of Reeves...

So that we can chalk up to fortuitous circumstances--the entry of a quality developer (similarly, on H St., it was Abdo, and that triggered other quality developers instead of crappy ones).

The quality development accelerates the change in ways that are difficult to anticipate.

and it's a kind of derivative of the one over neighborhood thesis. E.g., Res. 13 (East Capitol Hill) will develop once the rest of Capitol Hill inventory is exhausted.

Skyland and other east of the river locations will develop when highly valued locations west of the river get exhausted, etc.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Museum ... Carnegie is too small and the Growth Machine made a big error thinking that people going to conventions wanted to go to a museum of local history located across the street.

Yes, DC needs a local history museum. Because of how the national capital influences/influenced regional development, I argue it should be a regional history museum too.

Anyway, I worked with the interim director after the first iteration failed, and suggested a path of "manifest destiny" to the first couple floors of TechWorld across the street, which would have allowed for big galleries with big stuff in them -- train cars, streetcars, old signage (not much that is extant, sadly), fire engine ladder trucks, etc., comparable to the Heinz Pittsburgh History Center, which is an awesome museum.

But she didn't keep the job, and her successor--as I predicted--ran the museum into the ground.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

sorry to hijack with hyra.

You points on shaw all valid.

Two other things:

1. The gays tended to stay away, so the one-over thing wasn't apparent for a while.

2. Closing of republic gardens (2003?) burst the dam on U st; it should have gentrified before that but then it came very very quickly..

Two other reads:

Again it is priceless that Hyra lives in very suburban Alexandria and has the termiity to lecture those of us brown people living inside the L'Enfant city. Going on rat patrol is not fun.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

It's very complicated.

Like the Rogers _Diffusion of Innovation_ curve: innovators; early adopters; late adopters; early majority; late majority -- the fact is, pretty much through 2000 the people coming to the city were "innovators", ahead of the curve, in the face of national trends and attitudes.

Although we can argue that the actual stage varies/varied by neighborhood. E.g., H Street was still innovator in 2000, while Capitol Hill was probably closer to early majority, and Georgetown late majority.

But what I argue is that around 2000, the year by year addition of "innovators" committed to living in the city finally hit critical mass where it could have substantive impact. And this was coincident with both a recognition of the value of the city as "trendy and cool" partly which I attribute to tv shows like "Friends" as opposed to shows like "Brady Bunch", and the change in political control and government within DC to Mayor Williams and a renewed willingness on the part of developers to invest in the city.

... note that Abe Pollin returning his teams to the city was ahead of the critical mass reach point, and for a long time I refused to acknowledge this was an important element of the change in how it communicated to suburban residents that the city was becoming revalued.

What is probably tricky for sociologists is figuring this out in terms of segments.

A guy on the Eastern Market marketing committee is a realtor, has been in the city since the early 1980s I think.

He made the point that the people moving into the city _now_ (and I would argue this has always been somewhat dependent by neighborhood, e.g., differences between people moving to Shaw vs. Capitol Hill or Tenleytown) are doing so because it is trendy and they have a lot more money than the so called "urban pioneers" ever did. They want things to work and they aren't really interested in contributing their time and philanthropic efforts to doing so (e.g., they won't go on Rat Patrol).

Similarly, my next door neighbor has taught at one of the city's "best" elementary schools for more than 25 years. She said when she first started, many woman parents didn't work, and they volunteered, and the families gave money to the school. Then as the workforce opportunities changed, they stopped volunteering but gave money. She says now the people have no interest in either volunteering or giving money.

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I suppose that I am a white privilegy bad gentrifier. But again, you want people with commitment and a willingness to work on stuff to help fix a place.

e.g., my point about investment vs. disinvestment.

The demographics of the post war city developed from disinvestment and abandonment, glorifying the results as historically black neighborhoods later being warped by white gentrifiers is quite a simplification.

OTOH, not recognizing the impact of structural racism, segregation, economic dislocation etc. (e.g., the arguments of Prof. Wilson) is an equal simplification.

Many of the new folks figure that the legacy residents f*ed up the city, not acknowledging the events that contributed to urban decline, and it is only once they arrived that things started to improve.

It's very simplistic.

Like my argument that if dog parks and bike lanes came at the expense of investment in rec. centers and bus service etc. then we could talk about the nasty white gentrifiers changing government financial and policy priorities, but they didn't, so back off those poorly formulated arguments.

Getting back to the realtor's point... I don't like many of the new people either. They have incredibly simplistic views (e.g., a blogger in my greater neighborhood who writes for GGW too, talking about how Takoma's problems have to do with bad planning and zoning--while there are big problems with how we do sub-city planning, the issues are far more nuanced) and think they are owed, when they haven't done s***.

I wonder how many people who go to REI think what a cool space, but then oppose historic preservation regimes generally or within their own neighborhoods? (Or if they would have got off their a** to do anything about the threat of demolition of the building--the campaign that saved the building was organized and led by me...)

I bet a lot (e.g., the discussions within GGW or the positions of Glaeser and Yglesias).

The reality is that HP was one of the policy responses that helped to stabilize cities and attract residents during the many decades when policies, trends, and attitudes did not favor urban living.

That's why I have problems with how Molotch treats HP in _Urban Fortunes_. It wasn't a special sop to legacy whites, but a way to strengthen and stabilize a then shrinking tax base.

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

well it was a sop to whitey but at the same time a necessary policy response to staunch economic leakage.

... like how Hennepin County figured out they needed to invest in Minneapolis, and Minneapolis figured out they needed to invest in residents, in order to protect their respective property tax bases and viability.

Should Hennepin not have invested in parks and transit because that would make the city more attractive to "new people"? (There of course, there is less racialization unlike here.)

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

e.g., crime. You're absolutely right in all that you say about public safety improvements being the absolute foundation "of this stage" of urban revival.

Before 2000, people moved to the city knowing that crime was an issue, but we came here anyway.

And it was bad. Even my personal experiences, living in H Street were very bad, cost me a marriage (although we would likely have ended up divorcing anyway...) among other problems.

We first lived near the Rayful Edmond crack distribution area, and dozens of people were murdered, shots every night, shootings/murders at the Amoco station (where the Giant Supermarket is now), etc.

So it's hard for me to listen to people today and their histrionics about the crime wave. Yes, one crime is too many, murders are bad, shots fired are bad, etc.

About three years ago, a couple blocks away, I don't know why, there were shots fired -- no one was hit or hurt, some drive by rash of exuberance maybe -- and a guy on a neighborhood e-list started railing. I got somewhat bent out of shape, but merely said you need more than one incident to be able to make a declarative statement about the area now becoming "the wild wild west."

OTOH, a former colleague of Suzanne's lives less than two miles away, but south of Missouri Ave. around N. Capitol and they have experienced a rash of terrible stuff. They are clearly "innovators" in their context, where we are earlier adopters in ours (our neighborhood status is moving to late adopter definitely, it's rare for a house turnover to result in a 100% African-American household, mixed race couples + either Hispanic or white households dominate the in-migration that I see; but the neighborhood is still black majority--then again, our particular house has "always" been white occupied since 1929).

It really depends on the stage, and it would be pretty easy to map this according to the diffusion diagram.

At 11:43 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

RE: Crime; yes, and that is why the facile "Living the Wire" comment is so offensive.

Mari did some digging on when the bars on the windows went up. off memory mid 60s?

RE: Innovators

Yes, absolutely. And again that is where Hyra fails. This is (as per the economist article) a global phenomenon. And also acutely granular.

Again why you need to be writing a book; if I took your entire blog it would be at least 500K words. Yes, you are verbose and we could knock it down to 75K. But valuable insights.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

It's on my mind.

I have a couple of starting outlines more on cookbooks for bicycle best practice and arts-based revitalization. There the basic idea is introductory material and then a couple pages on the various best practices. They need to be combined and organized into a framework, now it's a list. But e.g., the bike outline has more than 200 best practices listed.

... although I will say that the Utah bike and ped planning guide, some of the San Diego SANDAG stuff, and the Utah first mile/last mile planning guides are all good. + translink vancouver. Those are outliers.

But even so we aren't codifying the way we should beyond infrastructure. E.g., in the WSJ last weekend "Ask ?" column (can't remember the dudes name), he said the reason people don't bike is not enough places aren't flat. Of course, as you know that isn't my position at all. If you want people to bike they need to be assisted to move away from the mobility paradigm that supports automobility.

... just as we had to build a new paradigm to support urban living.

I need a better computer though. And learn some adobe programs...

wrt the blog generally, I bet it's actually millions of words. There are more than 10,000 posts, some very long. But some repeats sure, and some that are just photos or reprints of other people's stuff.

... but yes, some of the things that Leinberger says, or Richard Florida, or Yglesias/Glaeser (or NextCity, even CityLab) do need a much better and rigorous response. (Not that I am knocking Florida, but it's basic urban economics, which is a good thing.)

bars. the 60s makes sense for many reasons. E.g., I argue that the reason behind the riots was a sense of abandonment, as integration either spurred whites to leave and enabled middle class blacks to leave the city, and they did.

it's the flip side of _The Future Once Happened Here_ too. Lots of acceptance of crime as a permanent condition. A resistance to "socialization" not as a necessary element of urban living and conditions, but seen as a control mechanism by the whites. etc.

bars were a way to fight back. not unlike that speech you dug up by the criminologist, who argued a lot of the crime drop came from individuals, buildings, etc., taking various steps because they couldn't rely on the police to protect them.

I can't remember the term he used, but the urban photographer Carlos Vergara did a presentation at NBM 12+ years ago and one of the photos he showed was a gas meter, water pump or something, covered by a locked metal cage.

He called it "micro-something." not microprotection, maybe microhardening.

I responded in the Q&A with the point that these were often necessary steps. ... speaking of all the terrible s*** that happened to us in 1989 in particular, but through the 1990s especially, in the H St. neighborhood. That was "Living the Wire."

2009 in Shaw isn't living the wire. Yes, in 2009 if living off Alabama Ave. SE or Stanton Road SE or Morris Road SE, or deep NE, Southern Avenue, etc. E.g., my piece "revitalization in stages: anacostia, from 2011, where I make the point that, not using these words, it wasn't pacified enough yet to be safe for the other to venture into, H St. in 1987 was closer to that position, but wtf did I know, being young and dumb. To me it was a couple blocks from Union Station, about a mile to the Capitol or to Downtown, how could it be "bad"?)

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

see Mari

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...


In terms of "blame the millennials" I can see that being "easy" because they are at the late adopter/early majority phase of the change.

The problem is generalizing from this stage of in-migration to the whole process, failing to recognize that they are much different in how they consume, mediate, and discuss the experience, let alone what they are experiencing.

They are in the position of being able to "live The Wire" because it isn't anything like the Wire, because it is post-2000.

e.g., for me -- rental car stolen, house burglarized multiple times, wife raped during a burglary, 3 attempted muggings including an injury and lost glasses [found with the aid of police] but none successful because I resisted, resisting sort of a burglar by lunging at him and chasing him out of the house (I was running after him but then realized I couldn't go too far without shoes or nothing but my underwear),an assault by a wack job on the 1600 block of L St. NW by an addled guy who swung a bag of tools at my head while I was biking to a stop to go to work (I was so angry I could have killed him, but instead I followed him for a couple miles until he, me, and police were in the same place--he got 180 days, but in court, testifying-witnessing this ended up not being satisfying because he was pathetic, a head case), various stuff stolen over the years, especially bike parts, sometimes bikes, etc.

While most of that happened in the H Street area (after the "last" mugging attempt by Sursum Corda on K St. NW/NE, I finally changed my night bike route home to avoid the unit block of K St. NW) it hasn't been limited to it.

There was nothing about it that I'd call "Living the Wire."

Mari's been here longer than I (I can't remember if she is a native, maybe). I think the coping mechanism point is a legitimate one.

My writing about Elijah Anderson's work wasn't to make jokes... but to come to some understanding of what is/was going on.

A lot of the "marking" of new residents is a kind of initiation ritual described in _Code of the Street_. I liken it to a similar process.

With a few iterations of this you get "schooled-learned" and do your micro-arming, be it bars on windows, not leaving stuff on the porch (at our place here, I lost a bike wheel once, and someone stole Suzanne's flip flops left on the porch; if we had a nice bench on our porch instead of the one we have, I'd probably lock it to the porch rails, just as a defense mechanism, even here).

I don't recount that to say that I am living the wire, but I do use that experience as a way to measure the level of crime and impact currently, and the number of incidents where I live now compared to where I lived, "when."

At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish you or Mari would do an op ed to counter the McCarthy piece.

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Hmm. Haven't read the whole piece. Will do so.

... I guess there is a point wrt Living the Wire that is maybe relevant...

e.g., I recounted in the comment above "my negative experiences" which I never do in toto, but there is the "When I first lived in the H St. neighborhood, over 18 months, 30 people were murdered a few blocks from my home" kind of one upmanship that you can get into when it comes to "how long have you lived here."

Again the "already here" like you, vs. the "innovators, early adopters, late adopters, early majority, late majority" is a whole other level, and already here sorted out by income and race too.

... even the very brief time I lived in Hill East, around 1991, after my divorce, the night the helicopter touched down on the school yard directly across the street, the murders, etc. (This was the area where Jim Myers wrote a story about, which appeared in The Atlantic:

DC was a lot different then.

FWIW, I've never watched "The Wire," but obviously I know about it.


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