News & Community

Hometown Flashback

Yes, Baltimore has changed—but we’ve kept our character.

Every month—in print and online—we try to provide the most interesting and worthwhile information that we can. But as a son of Little Italy who has never forgotten his roots, I think this issue is dedicated to a particularly compelling subject: “Baltimore, Then and Now.”
We don’t pretend to capture all the change that has taken place here over the years. That would take several volumes. But I hope you’ll find our retrospective as thought-provoking as I do.

Senior editor Ron Cassie, whose article provides a backdrop for the photo essay designed by art director Amanda White-Iseli, smartly felt that we should leave the definition of “then” deliberately ambiguous. After all, for someone associated with Legg Mason, “then” may be the year of its founding in 1899. For folks at the Rusty Scupper, which is celebrating its 32nd anniversary, “then” only stretches back three decades. But consider how the restaurant’s famous view has changed during that period of time.

The next time you shop at Towson Town Center, try to imagine what that suburb looked like just 50 years ago. Fifty years ago, Columbia didn’t exist. Twenty years ago, the first shovel of dirt hadn’t been turned at the Harbor East complex.

The changes aren’t just reflected in where and how we live and the kind of work we do. In a graceful essay in the Local Flavor section, food and travel editor Suzanne Loudermilk Haughey talks about how our tastes and venues have also changed. Of course, we miss a lot of the old standbys. But nothing better illustrates how much more cosmopolitan and diverse we are than the range of high-quality dining options we have now.

Despite the change, Baltimore has maintained its unique personality. We’re still a city of neighborhoods, and we’re still sort of quirky. Think about it: Where else would it be such important news, as it was last month, that Tom Smyth had to explain why Smyth Jewelers was taking down its long-standing billboard showing Mr. Boh proposing to little Miss Utz?

And I suspect that even in just five years—let’s imagine Harbor Point is built, the too-long-delayed west side renaissance does occur, the newly announced 43-story skyscraper rises at the Inner Harbor—we’ll find that what we currently regard as “now” will be “then.”