First a little bit of history of the Park Heights neighborhood. This neighborhood came up from the 1920s to the 1940s as Jews continued to migrate Northwest from East Baltimore. Park Heights just like Edmondson Village was a streetcar suburb. Park Heights thrived as a middle class Jewish community until the mid 1960s. As blacks migrated from the same slums as their Jewish cohort white flight in sued and by 1970 the neighborhood was almost entirely black. Edmondson Village has always been thought of as the poster child for block busting and complete racial turnover. In fact Park Heights did it in roughly half the time of Edmondson Village. Edmondson Village's turnover took 10 years (1955-1965) while Park Heights was 5 (1965-1970). Not only was Park Height's racial turnover quicker than Edmondson Village but it also decayed quicker. This my have little to do with the neighborhood itself. Since Edmondson Village changed earlier than Park Heights which gave it the ability to thrive as a black community. By the time Park Heights changed urban America was decaying faster than ever. The rise of the Black Panthers, The Building of interstate highways, public housing high rises, the MLK Jr. riots accelerated urban decay nationwide in the late 1960s through the 1970s. One thing that Park Heights always had in its favor was and is the Pimlico racecourse, home of the Preakness. But could the crown and jewel of the Park Heights community be holding it back? Read on and you may in for a shock.......
Photo From Google Earth
The new development on the former Pimilico will have Northern Parkway frontage. Opposite what is currently the Pimlico racetrack is the Glen/Mount Washington neighborhood. There is very little development in Glen and Mount Washington that actually faces Northern Parkway but for very good reason. During the interstate planning and building era neighborhoods used limited access parkways to try to distance themselves from decaying neighborhoods. But with the new mixed use development I'm proposing I would like to see this swath of land developed as another mixed use development to compliment its counterpart to the south. One thing that is one the other side of Northern Parkway is the soon to be former Pimlico Middle School. This represents even more available land on this side of Northern Parkway.
Photo From Google Earth
Further down Northern Parkway is the Seton Business Park. It's all to obvious that this was built in the 1970s and today it's one of the ugliest Business Parks in Central Maryland. Redevelopment will transform this eyesore to an Office Park that will give Canton Crossing a run for its money.
Photo From the Barclay Master Plan
Lastly I'd like to focus on social issues. Until now all I've talked about is physical redevelopment. Most importantly Park Heights has the one of the highest occurance of HIV and AIDS in the country, a large contributer to this is not sexual but dirty needles. It's no secret that drug addiction including herion is a major problem. One solution that I'm advocating is the needle exchange program. This is very controversial because critics say that it encourages drug use. I personally do not encourgae drug use and neither do the majority of politicians who are in favor of this. Needle exchange is the lesser ofd two evils,although it does nothing for the drug epidemic it does a lot to slow down the AIDS epidemic. It's the same people who turn their noses at the needle exchange program who try to stop condom give aways at high schools because it encourages teen sex. Condoms just like clean needles stop the spread of AIDS and teen pregnancy. Now that I've got babies on the brain I'd like to talk about the infant mortality rate. Park Heights has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country. This has a lot to do with the environment their mothers are exposed to. Mothers don't have access to health care, fresh healthy food and are more likely to addicts which in turn makes their baby an addict. With the exception of addiction the health of the mother and the rest of the population can be solved almost exclusively by the physical redevelopment aspect. Physical redevelopment can usher better services like better grocery stores, free clinics, and WIC centers. Now lets talk education, the elementary schools score relatively well considering their city schools but are still pretty terrible. I did a post a while back on school construction so refer to that when it comes the school buildings themselves. When it comes to test scores and the high drop out rate I got nothing.
Education woes aside I think we can say goodbye to Pimlico and Park Heights as we know them and they won't be missed.