Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

City Planning and Real Estate Development

Committee Member

Carter L Hudgins, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Willie Graham

Committee Member

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Dennis Pogue

Abstract

Baltimore’s working-class row houses are synonymous with its late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century expansion and growth, but in the modern era they are more frequently interpreted as symptoms of urban decay and decline. Baltimore City has, over many decades, addressed the issue of its vacant row houses through approaches that have inherently aligned with historic preservation goals. Although Baltimore’s revitalization programs are not explicitly meant to preserve the historic fabric of the communities they target, they do seem to have succeeded in making it more likely that the vernacular urban residential forms for which Baltimore is well known, and the communities in which they are embedded, will endure. Upton Neighborhood in West Baltimore, a struggling area with a deep history and long ties to the city’s African American community, is partially a historic district on the eastern boundary that has been the subject of such revitalization efforts. The paper explores three types of interventions: units owned by Housing Authority of Baltimore City, Vacants to Value, and Project C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities for Renewal and Enterprise) that began in 2016. All three programs have been used in Upton to address the issues of disinvestment and building abandonment, initially through demolition, but more recently through encouraged community involvement. These programs applied a range of methods to revitalize vacant and abandoned row houses, but they shared the common goal of re-occupying buildings before they became too degraded to save or sites of unfavorable activity. By working to attract new occupation, renter or owner, Baltimore City has strategically attempted to prepare whole blocks to garner reinvestment, rather than focusing on a single property. Intended to eliminate “blight,” the programs have incidentally achieved the preservation of the neighborhood’s historic architectural and social fabric saving the working- class residential units. Surveying the residential row houses in the Upton neighborhood to assess and record current conditions of the buildings and their architectural integrity, occupied status, GIS mapping of demographic patterns and patterns of reinvestment reveal that Baltimore’s programs have guided the architectural preservation of a neighborhood whose history and whose residents have often been overlooked.

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