West Baltimore Beyond the Fire: Art Along Pennsylvania Avenue
Old West Baltimore, as it is called, is actually a national historic district made up of a half dozen neighborhoods. Since the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, many non-residents often refer to these 175 blocks as Sandtown. That irks people who know better. People who live in Upton, for example.Until recent decades, Upton was long associated with the strivers, the professionals, the Black elite. This was the home of jazz clubs and entertainment hubs like the Royal Theater. Back in the day, Billie Holiday could be seen in the clubs at night and then, perhaps, at St. Peter Claver Church in the day. Now, you are more likely to see rappers like the late Lor Scoota or up-and-coming boxing champions like Gervonta “Tank” Davis.This tour, which will take you to the heart of Old West Baltimore, focuses on art and institutions that are more Upton than Sandtown, centered around the Pennsylvania Avenue cultural corridor. This is not Old West Baltimore of the 1950s. It is certainly not Disneyland. Nothing in this gritty, bustling section of town has been particularly prettied up for tourists. But you ARE welcome. As the photographer Dominic Nell says, “In Baltimore, beauty and chaos live side by side.”
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