Thursday, November 09, 2006

An issue that I noticed in Lippman's novel that has brought about the most interest in me are the gentrification and "clean up" Baltimore projects that have been going on pretty much since I've been a freshman, and most likely before that. She discusses the vision of Columbia, MD and also the implementation of the Inner Harbor as parts of these projects, obviously around long before the inner city projects going on currently. But, even though they happened so many years ago, during a different time, they have many similarities and seem to be ringing the same truths.

Lippman writes, "The late developper James Rouse was better known for his much imitated 'festival marketplaces,' from Boston's Faneuil Hall to Baltimore's Harborplace, than he was for his new city. He had wanted to change the way people lived and ended up changing the way tourists shopped" (73-74). This statement seems to further prove my suspicions all along: that Baltimore isn't cleaning up its areas for the lower-income people to have better places, but to bring "better" people into the areas and raise the standard of living.

The projects that are currently taking place in Baltimore aren't done so the poor people that once lived in these dilapidated rowhomes can return to a home that will help them continue to live well and safely. They are being built to resell for many times what they were purchased, in turn raising the cost of living in that neighborhood, only attracting wealthy people to that neighborhood and fostering the flight from the city concept that so many urban areas see. What baffles me even further is when I looked up the exact definition of 'gentrification.' The definition states: "the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses" (dictionary.com). I am just astounded that one leaders of the city would want to do that to begin with and two that they would actually use that word when explaining to Baltimoreans their purpose for the city is. It makes me (and probably should anyone else) question whether these "clean-up Baltimore" projects are really good for the people of the city, or the potential future generations of the city.