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by Peter Moskos

April 17, 2010

Perlman Place Demolition

The Baltimore Sun has a video.

It's always a bit sad to see people cheer the destruction of a city block. Of course this block was already destroyed. Now it's just a matter of tearing down empty shells of brick. Everything of value has been stripped. Now it's just a place for trash, wild animals, and crime. As sad as it is, for residents and police, a vacant lot is much better than a vacant building.

One-block streets in the Eastern have always been a pain in the ass. It's like where the gangrene starts. Just mention these names to police and watch them wince. There was the 2300 block of Crystal Ave, Henneman Ave, N Register, the 2000 block of Ellsworth, the 2200 block of Prentiss Place. Some of these places aren't even named on Google Maps. Next time you're driving though Baltimore, just try and finding 1611 Hakesley Place. First you need to find Iron Alley.


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Oh, there it is. That's Iron Alley (RIP Vincent Adolfo). And it's the only way in or out of Hakesley Place. Just go up there and make a left. I dare you. God save the officer who calls a Signal 13 in the rear of 1600 Hakesley Place, odd side.

Looking at a better map, I can even see names I don't recognize. Maybe I'm getting old, but I guess they were already vacant when I was there. I don't remember ever getting a call for Terrell Place, Eareckson Place, or Lancing Ave.

And even though it wasn't a one-block street, I'll just throw in the 700 block of N. Port for good measure. What a pain that block was. East of N Rose things got better. But I didn't police east of Rose.

And the alley streets (at least that's what I called them) weren't much better. Here's the 900 Block of N Duncan on a beautiful Spring day:


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And that's the street. Then there's the alley (pan to the right). And best of all (God bless Baltimore) the alley off the alley. My front door used to be in an alley off an alley. I had a PO Box and no chance of newspaper delivery. Hell, the 2000 census never found me. And I wasn't exactly hiding.

When I rummaged around vacants in the Eastern or watched the sun rise and trains go by from the 1300 Block of N Dallas (my favorite spot at dawn), I couldn't help but think, "there used to be families here." If you squinted really hard you could even make out ghosts of normal family life in some of the ruins: leftover broken furniture, tacky wallpaper, and console TVs (funny how those became worthless). There was almost never anything left of value. Just rubble and trash.

Though if anybody could scavenge me a marble stoop and a Formstone plaque, I'd be much obliged (I'm not kidding about the Formstone plaque).

5 comments:

Gotti Rules said...

Hey Pete,
Wow what a trip down memory lane. I forgot half of those streets names, but I do remember getting calls on them. Not only are those small side streets gone, but houses on busier streets are gone as well. Remember the old bag lady who used to call me "Fat head?" Her whole entire block has been bulldozed to the ground.

PCM said...

Miss Joyce? She made the acknowledgments of my book and you didn't. What do you make of that?!

And she wasn't a bag lady and she only called you that once... and was immediately apologetic.

Besides, you do have a fat head!

Good God... sometimes if I didn't know better I'd think I miss that place.

deacon312 said...

Plenty of odd spots in the Eastern, but one of the strangest I've ever seen is in the Southeast. 500 block of S. Holtzman Ct. Unlike "alley houses" that have a small street down the middle, this one consists of about 6 houses that actually open up in the alley, with only 1 way in and 1 way out. Very weird, especially since the alley doesn't connect to anything on the north end (look at the satellite image on google maps, without stree tabs). Step out your front door and you have a 3-story wall to your left, solid rear walls of rowhomes straight ahead, and an exit to Fait on the right. And trees growing out of the concrete, making it even more claustrophobic. It's like walking into a kid's cardboard box fort.

PCM said...

Cool. Never knew about that one. And I thought I knew all the nooks around there.

And look on the same block of Holtzman Ct... Winterling Court! Opens up to the wide Boulevard of S Maderia. You know, just south of Duker Court.

I gotta say, though, the trees on Holtzman Ct are classy!

For what it's worth, the only way into my apartment (4900 block of Eastern, 2nd floor) was even more obscure. But it was a rear entrance and not an official/legal front door like those courts are.

To get to my home, you needed to go down a brick passage (if you can touch both sides, I think it's too small to call it an alley... but it also wasn't a breezway) next to the take-out joint and then make a left into another pedestrian dead-end alley! I was like 4 backyards in, on the left.

But I was paying all of $300/month rent. And downstairs I had Miss Mary, the best, most loving landlady in the world. And she made me great baximadia (Greek cookies) and was one tough cookie herself. She was one of a kind. Passed away a few years ago. I miss her.

deacon312 said...

Ah, good ole' Duker court! Who could ever forget about that iconic Baltimore avenue? Probably the 99.9% of the population that walk by it, see it, and promptly forget that it exists because they have no reason to go there. It's no wonder so much shady shit goes down in that city. If you can hide a damn house, or block of them for that matter, you can probably hide just about anything. Guns? Check. Drugs? Check. Fugitive brother-in-law? Check. Stigmatizing crime statistics? Check. Widespread social ills? . . . nope, that's one thing that will never disappear in that city.