Passed Through Baltimore for a Quick The Wire Tour

Baltimore Row Houses near Bond St

I was driving from Washington, DC to NYC yesterday, which brought me through Baltimore; a town I know mostly as the city where awesome show The Wire was based. A little Googling revealed quite a few sites around town worth checking out. I snapped the above photo along Bond Street:

6. Drug Corners And Bulletproof Bars
(Bond Street between Biddle and Federal streets)
This tour itinerary doesn’t include stops at any particular drug-corner locations, though they are central to The Wire’s plots. That’s because they’re everywhere. “Drug corners are so easy for me to find,” Peranio says while driving back north on Bond Street. “Almost any corner in this neighborhood could be one. Every time we get a script, there’s a list of 35 places to find in five days. If it’s an alley, a bar, or a drug corner, we just say [to the crew] set up where you want, because I’ll walk up the street and find a good drug corner.” Several of the corners on this stretch of Bond were used as drug corners in the third and fourth seasons.

The area along Bond Street, such as the shot above, shows that things really are what the show made them out to be in that part of town. Frankly, it’s worse in person than in the show. The show focused primarily on the drug dealers in that area, but driving around, the addicts are even more prominent than the dealers, which makes sense since one dealer can handle the needs of many addicts.

No neighborhood of Minneapolis is as run down as this part of Baltimore. Cleveland? Perhaps. Gary, IN? No. There aren’t enough people left.

That said, the city has many very nice areas as well. I ate at an empenada restaurant in Little Italy, which is a neighborhood of well maintained row houses a bit closer to downtown. That neighborhood seems very healthy, isn’t boarded up, and doesn’t have drug corners.

Row houses, at their best, look awesome, but at their worst, look pretty darn scary to me.

4 thoughts on “Passed Through Baltimore for a Quick The Wire Tour”

  1. Kansas City has areas like this, but probably not quite as bad as Baltimore. What makes it worse is that you can usually tell that the areas were once really nice. That’s depressing.

  2. Thanks for not including any spoilers. I’m hoping to watch the last two episodes from Season 1 tonight.

    Pay phones! I’d almost forgotten all about them….

  3. I live in one of the few remaining row homes in Minneapolis. There used to be many here, but most have been torn down. A few have been converted into apartments. Mine was built in 1894.

  4. I’m originally from Baltimore, now live in the Twin Cities. The Wire was especially poignant, realistic, and close to home for me. I’m old enough to remember when the famed row houses as pictured were a source of pride for the city and home to a wonderfully diverse and energetic middle class. All of the steps you see used to be solid white Maryland marble, long ago quarried out. Every weekend the residents would be out scrubbing those steps to a bright white. Most of those have been replaced long ago in favor of easier and cheaper replacement and maintenance.

    This color post card:

    And this black and white photo:

    … give some idea of what it once was.

    David Simon was once a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun and he was masterful in bringing the reality he discovered to the show. Baltimore is the one central character in The Wire, and its character as a city – at once unique and universal – is what makes the show so extraordinary.

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