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Mapping the Harm City meanscape with Google Earth


We'd love your input on our new Baltimore Travel Guide! Go ahead and click "Add a comment" below.
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GrizzlyMay 9, 2016 10:06 PM UTC

If you ever do a guide for Washington DC, please advertise it! All the major cities need such a guide, but DC is the next biggest city close to me, after Baltimore.
responds:May 10, 2016 2:01 PM UTC

There is only one problem, Grizzly—I am terrified of D.C.!

I live in fear in my hobbit hole over here in the Shire that Sauron's Great Eye will turn its death ray this way, and you want me to rub shoulders with the Lord of the Nazgul!

I appreciate the nice words and owe Charles quite a bit for this. He easily put a hundred hours in on it.
MelenApril 28, 2016 4:22 PM UTC

Spot on. The Hope Lodge, run by the American Cancer Society is in the red zone, just bordering the yellow. I stayed there for three weeks. I was encouraged to walk everyday. As I hobbled along at slow speed, my husband and I were approached by a man with a bullet hole in his neck (healed) and a story asking for money. We had 35 cents in our pocket. He did not look happy when we gave it to him. There was a flash of anger in his eyes, but then he paused, thanked us, and left. From then on I carried a few more dollars just in case. Worse case I was going to flash my new 15 inch incision scar and hope for mercy.
responds:April 28, 2016 4:59 PM UTC

Melen,

That is a horrific story. I've interviewed many men and women about terrible things that have happened to them in Baltimore, but, as low key as this experience of yours might seem to others, I'm sorry that bullet in his panhandling neck didn't get the job done.

I hope you're well.
GrizzlyApril 23, 2016 12:32 PM UTC

Awesome website, a great resource! I hope I never have to use it, but I do live within a short drive of the city. My church provides volunteers who work a food/clothing bank somewhere in Harm City. I'd like to know what kinds of risks they're taking before I volunteer myself.
responds:April 23, 2016 3:43 PM UTC

Keep in mind that commercial areas are usually worse than the surrounding residential areas, except when you hit a red residential area. Red residential areas are real bad news because no one is pulling police in to shield their business.
Proudly UnaffiliatedApril 22, 2016 12:01 PM UTC

Fabulous web site and consistent with what little I know about Baltimore as an infrequent visitor who intends and hopes to never go again. Every major city in America needs this, such a great public service, fantastic work. Thank you and I salute you!
responds:April 23, 2016 3:53 PM UTC

Charles and I literally debated every square block of the city. This could not have been a one-man thing. Also, the Google Earth street views, once you learn how to use them, are very instructive for an area you do not frequent. We mapped areas we knew well first, noted aggression indicators—like steel bars on the corner house—and then applied them to blocks we had little experience with. The other factor was the 20 years of violence interviews I did. When you have spoken with a half-dozen people who have been attacked in one strip-mall, and then you see it for the first time from the Google Earth car, it is kind of chilling. We also used the murder map to check unreported aggression against reported deaths.

Thanks for the props.
ManuelApril 22, 2016 2:46 AM UTC

Very cool. Nice work!
Sam J.April 10, 2016 12:40 AM UTC

This is a great guide but it's lost on me because I'll never to Baltimore. I'm about thirty percent through the riot video and...I just can't get over it. A whole city laid to waste. In the old days they would call in the national guard. I'm looking around and maybe ten Humvees with a M-60 on top and you could pile these people up in around two hours. These people are so stupid they have no idea how this looks to others. They don't have any idea how it can be countered. They don't have any idea that at some point it will be the last straw and then they will say...but, but, I din do nuffing but it will be too late. All this pent up anger at the sheer wastage of housing. They just have no idea.

In LA they let them riot for a few days then called out a curfew. Any one who came out riding around immediately had their radiator filled with holes. They went home.
Nero The PictApril 8, 2016 10:35 AM UTC

Sweet highly accurate take on whats what in Baltimore...Great job on the contents and graphics. Only two minor points. I would list Bolton Hill in the Yellow category. It might have its affluence going in its favor. The reality is that it's pocket of Eloi surrounded by projects. The architecture and lack of street lights make it a no go zone for pedestrians after dark. It might look safe but it isn't always. Basically an Oasis for stick up artists. Druid Hill is a dicey proposition that at least warrants a yellow rating. Surrounded on all sides by shady shit it is the perfect happy hunting ground for some latter day Iroquois war parties. Lots of blind spots and places to hide.
responds:April 11, 2016 5:17 AM UTC

What Nero gave here was a good tactical occupancy assessment. The Guide is not an occupancy risk assessment, but is focused on the needs of travelers.

Buy a house in Bolton Hill?

No way!

Blue means that the people who live there and for whom the businesses are intended will not attack you. In other words, standing in front of a fried chicken joint will get you mugged quicker than standing in front of a Christian book store.

The most dangerous criminals will come and get you from across town in a car.

Most violent crimes, however, are acts of opportunity committed by people who regularly inhabit or traverse an area. There are many neighborhoods that had similar housing values to Bolton Hill that we yellowed because projects were laid in behind them, with their backs to highways and train tracks, meaning that the project dwellers had to traverse the upscale area to get to bus lines and commercial areas. Such a forced egress situation is a not present here.

As for Druid Hill, surrounding areas being bad have no effect unless there is a forced egress aspect to the urban planning. Fortunately there are no ebonic Tree Ents to mug you here, only those who come hunting, so clear out before dusk.

Looking at Bolton Hill from the perspective of North Avenue [Freddie Gray’s main drag] we look to the West and see Sandtown [the deep ghetto] and to the north and see Reservoir Hill, which is a gentrification disaster. Do not assume this guide is suggesting that you should live or work in any of these locations. Instead imagine that you got in an argument with your wife while driving down I-83 to the Inner Harbor for an Orioles game and that she dropped you off on North Avenue.

First of all, you deserve it, because you have not yet purchased and read Your Trojan Whorse!

Do you head East down the worst street in Baltimore hoping that you run into a gay white man or Mexican selling flowers before the Asquith-Endsor Crew uses you for dog bait?

Do you head west down the worst street in Baltimore into the worst Ghetto on the East Coast?

Do you head up into Reservoir Hill past the gangs of hoodlums drinking malt liquor and smoking blunts, hoping to make it to—oh, shit, they barred the church doors, caged the bars and padlocked the cage! [This church faces Druid Hill Park.]

Or, do you head up into Bolton Hill hoping that you could flag down a Good Samaritan before the homeboys following you from the bus stop at the base of Reservoir Hill catch up with your slow ass?

The reason we made this map—arguing every block of the way, it seemed—was so anyone from out of town who had been unwise enough to visit Harm City, might have the information necessary to choose the lesser of four evils, kind of like a four-way American presidential election, knowing in that moment that the gods never had any intention of giving you a good choice, because that wouldn’t be any fun at all up in ebonic Olympus.
SeanApril 8, 2016 5:50 AM UTC

Interesting stuff. How is it you can jump from a blue zone to a red zone by crossing the street? What deters red from creeping over?
responds:April 11, 2016 5:12 AM UTC

With the publication of the Baltimore Travel Guide we have had some comments and questions as to blue zones—which are the places you want to be, if, that is, you want to be, or somehow find yourself in, Baltimore.

The most common question is how can a single two-lane street demarcate a hunting ground from a desirable location?

As crazy as it sounds, many people who will choose to mug you will choose not to do so if you are even fifty feet beyond their psychological safe zone. That said, those are low-level local criminals. the most dangerous types will travel to the softest richest-yielding targets.

Currently, Northeast Baltimore and the adjoining County areas of Parkville are being hunted by black men in their 20s from West Baltimore who are using cars for mobility and handguns to get the job done. Those guys can hit anyone anywhere. Currently in Upper Co, MD, a group of white men are hitting houses using cars. But when these crooks are young teenagers, they will all be limited to foot patrolling and ambushing.
ShayneApril 8, 2016 1:45 AM UTC

James -

I think it rocks man!! The new header was the 1st thing I noticed tonight. Music is good too...nice touch. Maybe add some bad assed white guy kickin the shit out of a rat for a splash of "getting even" with "ROCKY" playing in the background.