A New Working Class by Jane Berger

A New Working Class by Jane Berger

Author:Jane Berger [Berger, Jane]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780812253450
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
Published: 2021-09-15T00:00:00+00:00


“A Tourist Town at the Expense of the Poor”

The Making of Two Baltimores

On a warm, sunny day in July 1981, Baltimore’s mayor, outfitted in a yellow-and-red-striped Victorian bathing suit and sporting a straw hat, stood on the edge of a seal tank beside his city’s newly built national aquarium. The mayor had already dropped rubber duckies into the water and was preparing to follow them in. He descended a set of underwater stairs until all that remained for the few hundred reporters and spectators to see was his hat floating on the water. After he resurfaced, the mayor swam to some rocks, making way for the tank’s rightful inhabitants. Released by their attendants, a group of seals slowly scooted down a runway to join the mayor in their new home. As the seals swam around “Hizhonor,” the audience could not help being charmed by Charm City’s quirky mayor. And as they looked up from the spectacle to glance around the inner harbor that the aquarium bordered, few could fail to be impressed by recent dramatic changes. Looking southwest across the tip of the harbor, reporters sent by local, national, and even international news outlets could see the Maryland Science Center, built some five years earlier to attract visitors to the waterfront. Spectators looking to the west of the seal tank and past a new high-rise World Trade Center glimpsed the mast of the city’s historic all-sail Civil War navy ship docked at a new marina. Next to the ship and just north of the Science Center, the two glass pavilions of Baltimore’s Harborplace mall, designed by nationally renowned developer James Rouse, hugged the harbor’s edge. Attached to one of the pavilions by a pedestrian walkway was the recently opened Hyatt Regency hotel. And just beyond the hotel was a new convention center, which city officials hoped would attract increased business now that the mayor’s swim with the seals was going to put Baltimore on the map.1

Baltimore’s waterfront had changed considerably during the less than ten years that Mayor William Donald Schaefer had been in office. And Schaefer had presided over the harbor’s facelift with enthusiasm. He and his staff labored with the same degree of dedication and passion that had fueled the city’s antipoverty and human-services workers in their efforts to combat economic insecurity during the 1960s and early 1970s. In fact, the mayor and his advisers understood the waterfront projects as a type of antipoverty initiative. By attracting tourists and businesses to Baltimore, the mayor hoped to jumpstart the economy of his deindustrializing city and generate revenue that would reverse decline and eventually trickle down to low-income residents. The strategy was one also pursued by other executives in rust-belt cities. Schaefer proved particularly masterful at the approach for two main reasons. First, like the antipoverty warriors, he was adept at securing federal grants to pursue his projects—for like Baltimore’s War on Poverty, much of the city’s commercial redevelopment was paid for with federal dollars. And second, but this


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