Posted on April 23, 2019

Suburbanites, Come Back to Baltimore

Anirban Basu, Baltimore Sun, April 22, 2019

This plea is made to the suburbanites among us: If you have disengaged from Baltimore City, please consider re-engaging. My appeal is not based upon vague notions of virtuous acts. I appeal to nothing other than your self-interest.

So many of you tell me that you no longer go to the city. {snip}

Your retort to me might very well be, “If I go to the city, I’m likely to end up at Shock Trauma.”


But like you, I would rather end up at a restaurant with poor food and service than at Shock Trauma. Accordingly, my second rejoinder would be that there are certain parts of the city that are safer than others. {snip}

With that in mind, my third rationale regarding re-engagement is based on the notion that our region’s cultural heritage and greatness are inextricably linked to the city. It is there you will find the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore Museum of Art, National Aquarium, Maryland Zoo, Visionary Arts Museum, Lyric, Hippodrome, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore Basilica, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Maryland Science Center, Port Discovery, Little Italy, Fells Point, Hampden, Mount Vernon, Harbor East, Johns Hopkins, Fort McHenry, Poe’s resting place, Center Stage, Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the Ravens and the O’s.

Yes, it’s an impressive, albeit partial list. The problem is that without you, the wayward suburbanite, the city cannot recover. In some communities, many of the wealthiest denizens live in the center city. You will observe this in London, New York and elsewhere. Here, wealth is decidedly concentrated in suburbia. The Baltimore region is the 7th most educated as measured by share of population with a college degree and the 5th most affluent in terms of median household income among the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas. But while the median household income in suburban Baltimore ranges from nearly $72,000 in Baltimore County to more than $115,000 in Howard County, it’s $46,641 in the city.

Thus, your boycott of the city serves to strangle the institutions that represent the foundation of city life. One day, there will be a great mayor. I understand, it’s been a long time. When that great mayor arrives, he or she will seek to leverage the strength of Baltimore’s institutions into a citywide renaissance. {snip}


If these arguments fall short, perhaps you will consider your home’s value. Baltimore’s woes create issues for the entire region. While outmigration from the city to the suburbs accelerates with crime, grime and poorly performing schools, in-migration to the region slows. The overall effect is to reduce the rate at which your home gains value.


For your own sake, it’s time to go back to the city. There’s more there than violence, corruption, panhandlers and squeegees. See if you can peer through that and find the charm beneath.