West Baltimore & the Truth about “The Wire”

west baltimore ghetto

The Truth About “The Wire” and the West Baltimore Ghetto

Baltimore, a city that has been in the light for the past decades from the hit HBO series “The Wire” to well publicized police and political corruption.

Many were first introduced to the troubles of Baltimore through David Simon’s The Wire as the viewers were able to witness a fictional or make believe version of what is life like growing up in the streets and urban community of West Baltimore.

The riots and protest over the death of Freddie Gray occurred in a city where a rebellion against the local law enforcement were overdue as the people suffered for years of over policing, corruption and police brutality.

While the city’s black population is well dispersed throughout the city, like South Baltimore’s Cherry Hill and Brooklyn or East Baltimore from Highland Town to Northeast’s Ramblewood, West Baltimore is the heart of the city.


Brief History of West Baltimore

One of the oldest black populations in the country have been in the Baltimore region, which date back to the 19th Century or the 1800s and has been constantly growing year by year since.

The city’s African-American population begun as newly arrivals who were provided opportunities to work in the Baltimore shipyards originally made their residence in a small section of East Baltimore.

As the black population within Baltimore increased, African-Americans began to reside in neighborhoods of West Baltimore, mostly between North Avenue and Edmondson.

Eventually, Pennsylvania Avenue and Edmondson would become the heart of the city of Baltimore black culture as many called neighborhoods like Sandtown, the Bottom, or Upton their home.

west baltimore ghetto

The current condition of the once thriving and historic community of West Baltimore.

During the 1950s and 1960s as integration and the desegregating of Baltimore’s communities gave the opportunity for African-Americans to be able to move out of the small segregated sections of East and West Baltimore.

While before the 1970s there were only a handful of black neighborhoods like Cherry Hill or Turner Station, but by the beginning of the 1970s the entire city became predominantly African-American.


The Truth About The Wire

One of the reasons the streets of the city of Baltimore gained much notoriety was the highly acclaimed HBO television series “The Wire”.

While the city of Baltimore may have one of the country’s worst drug problems, which was often displayed on The Wire, the HBO series also showed corruption and poor police tactics that took the reign as one of the city’s biggest problems.

Before the Freddie Gray riots, the locals of Baltimore had legitimate claims of an excessive police presence in the community with times of local law enforcement being out of control.

west baltimore ghetto

For instance, people who get home from work and want to socialize outside with the people of their neighborhood were not allowed due to the police enforcing the claim of no loitering or standing around in their own community.

To combat crime, the city also placed stricter guidelines towards sentencing convicted felons or rules for citizens on probation and parole, which have made times for the people of Baltimore more difficult.

Many of the laws that have been implemented over the years were by politicians or public officials that have either committed crimes or have broken the multiple ethnic rules themselves.

The other side of The Wire was the streets as characters Marlo Stanfield and Avon Barksdale displayed the terror and reign of the drug trade in the streets of the West Baltimore ghetto.

west baltimore ghetto

In reality, the 1970s was the beginning era of the streets in the many neighborhoods of East Baltimore and West Baltimore, as well parts of South Baltimore.

‘Hoods like Flag House of the East Side or Lexington Terrace of the West Side became reputable as the streets from the 1970s to the 1990s produced characters and stories for the television show “The Wire”.

Many of the characters and stories for “The Wire” are fictional but were based on people that ran and controlled most of the streets between the 1970s and the 1990s.

There are some residents of Baltimore who disagree with “The Wire” and claim most of the show is false and is not an accurate depiction of the streets of Baltimore, with a claim no one person can control an entire city.

Is Baltimore Gentrifying

The location of Baltimore has much prosperity and much to offer, with the location near water, in which has caused the long process of gentrification as numerous blocks in the city center or inner city have been left to rot and deteriorate.

west baltimore ghetto

Since the 1990s, the Baltimore ghetto has a number of old neighborhoods that have been demolished like the old housing projects of Lafayette Court in East Baltimore or the Murphy Homes in West Baltimore, all been either rebuilt or demolished.

According to, gentrification of the Baltimore ghetto has been occurring since the 1990s.

What started in South Baltimore Locust Point and areas near downtown, has now expanded into other sections of the city as the average home values are rising from 30% to 300% in areas that are near downtown.


*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate

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