Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Midtown Edmondson: Predominantly Vacant

Given Baltimore's continued population loss, it would stand to reason that eventually one of its Neighborhood's vacancy rate would surpass the 50% mark.Midtown Edmondson has done just that. It is the only Neighborhood in the 2010 Census to give such a revelation.Now this just calculates of vacant homes not vacant lots. I think of vacant lots were included Harlem Park, Upton, Penn North, Park Heights, Broadway East, and Oliver would hit the half way vacant mark.Even Neighborhoods like Middle East (pictured above) where the City has purposely drained the population for redevelopment, it is still only 35% vacant. This obviously begs the questions of why did this happen? how did this happen? and how can Midtown Edmondson not only be less than half vacant but become a destination for those relocating to Baltimore?
First a little bit of history regarding Midtown Edmondson, how it got that name I have no idea but I will discuss the general area it's located in and hopefully that will shed some light. Midtown Edmondson was a product of the Post World War I housing boom. The great migration had pushed the white/black dividing line to Fulton Avenue just a couple of blocks east of Midtown Edmondson. Given that the Whites living east of Fulton Avenue had to find other housing options
they moved into Neighborhoods like Midtown Edmondson which provided new housing at an affordable price.Midtown Edmondson proved to be a stepping stone for middle class Residents both White and Black throughout history coming from East of Fulton Avenue on their way to Edmondson Village whose construction began at the same time as Midtown Edmondson but carried on longer due
to the great depression and World War II halting development.After World War II the white/balck dividing line went past Fulton Avenue (pictured above) into Midtown Edmondson which made for one of the earliest cases of blockbusting. Rather than go into Edmondson Village where residents were certain that migrarting Blacks wouldn't cross Gwynns Falls Park, Midtown Edmondson Whites leapfroged Edmondson Village and moved to the County. Midtown Edmondson and its Neighbors went from all White to all Black almost overnight although both populations were middle class.
As conditions east of Fulton Avenue (pictured above) worsened, more working class Blacks began moving to Mistown Edmondson which in turn prompted middle class already living there to seek other housing options and what they chose was Edmondson Village. This brought blockbusting to Edmondson Village where Whites living there sold their houses at a lost and paid a pretty penny for houses in the suburbs.
1968 was a pivital year for Midtown Edmondson, some of its buildings were destroyed as a result of the MLK riots. The 1970s weren't any kinder to Midtown Edmondson either, the Road to Nowhere was constructed which severed its connection to Neighborhoods to the south. Also east of Fulton Avenue, the population had drained out and Midtown Edmondson was experiencing greater poverty.
By 2010 after 40 years of population loss and disinvestment, Midtown Edmondson did what no other Neighborhood in Baltimore has done; its vacancy rate went above 50%. The extreme disinvestment and lack of developer attention has brought the Neighborhood into a stagnant
state. With high vacancy rates the crime rate and illegal drug goes up and Midtown Edmondson is no exception.
Now that I've explained why and how it got this way, hows about I try to offer some solutions for growth in Midtown Edmondson? Now there is no magic solution to an impoverished Neighborhood that is losing population at an alarming rate. Also keep in mind that there is
nothing that would draw any Residents from elsewhere.
There is however a saving grace for Midtown Edmondson and its name is MARC. Once the Red Line opens and becomes operational, the West Baltimore MARC Station will be redeveloped as will the road to nowhere. Now the boundaries of the West Baltimore MARC Master Plan don't quite extend into Midtown Edmondson and the Neighborhoods it does extend into, there's not much in the way of redevelopment.
A synergy could be created through the West Baltimore MARC Station that may make Neighborhoods like Midtown Edmondson a draw for commuters riding either the MARC or the Red Line. Now in order to draw people back in, that synergy must also attract a developer and the attention of the City. What the City must do is offer up vacant homes and vacant land at below market value to ensure developers either build nice new houses or spend most of their investment rehabbing homes that could still be occupied. For homesteaders, the City should
reinstate the $1 row home program to attract maximum invest dollars from home owners. Areas with very high concentrations of vacancies must be redeveloped with new housing to put a new face on the Neoghborhood and restore confidence in future Residents that Midtown Edmondson has made a turn around.
Midtown Edmondson may be predominantly vacant Neighborhood now but with the redevelopment of the West Baltimore MARC Station, it receive a saving grace.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ascott said...

Hey there, I've returned to the city after a while in the county. I've moved to this neighborhood and am looking to create a wikipage. Where did you get your historical information?

Feel free to email me:


Unknown said...

Hey I commented on another post saying "I'm really appreciative of this blog I've been trying to find historical information specifically associated with the history of Baltimore's neighborhoods. I'm very interested in history and I can tell that many of the neighborhoods in Baltimore used to be glorious spectacles. I can't really find anyone who cares to say much about this topic (esp. In my age group &demographic) which is why I opt to look up info on my own. This blog is wonderful." Can you please email me at I have a few questions regarding the wonderful content of your blog & also wanted to know if I could accompany you with a specific neighborhood (if you don't already have it posted)
-Thanks, Tara