As a city resident, born and residing in Baltimore since the 1920s, it seems to me that Raymond Daniel Burke's op-ed ("City or oasis on the water?" June 12) and Roz Heid's letter of June 14 are unduly pessimistic and accusatory toward Baltimoreans who did not flee the city during its continuing evolution from the 1950s to the current time.
To correct the record, the Inner Harbor concept and its authorization came prior to the riots of 1968. From 1963 to 1967, the developer, James Rouse, together with Mayor Theodore R. McKeldin and the City Council, conceived the plans and enacted the laws.
Mr. Burke's emphasis on racism is misplaced. The aftermath of World War II and the prosperity of the 1950s generated the migration to the suburbs with its better housing, new roads and development, all of which resulted in the substantial movement of one third of the city's population to the surrounding counties. It was during the presidency ofDwight D. Eisenhower andJohn F. Kennedy, rather than the aberration of George Wallace's vote or the primary nomination of George P. Mahoney, that he exodus occurred.
There is no doubt that the assassination ofMartin Luther King Jr.contributed to the movement from the city but since it happened in 1968, it was not the precipitating cause.
Throughout this period the city's political and economic leadership and the residents who remained commenced the "task" of rebuilding Baltimore and continued the evolution from a substantially deteriorated harbor area to a more successful business and entertainment center. During this time, an increasing middle class continued to grow in Baltimore while poverty slowly continued to diminish in residential inner city areas.
Mr. Burke notes that Baltimore's racial segregation has evolved into economic segregation. He deplores our expenditure of resources on the war on drugs, the wars abroad, etc. He implies that recent disturbances in the Inner Harbor area and the resultant call of citizens for more police protection are not generally related to the peace and progress of the city. Instead, he believes the aim of these citizens is "to keep our reclaimed downtown safe for those with the means to enjoy it and to preserve its economic vitality and income production." It seems to me that Mr. Burke is ventilating his idealism, impatience and frustration against those who fare more successfully in our society. He is inciting class against class in order to build his concept of a "true city," which he doesn't describe, rather than just an urban oasis, namely the Inner Harbor area. The answer lies in the creation of private jobs. With employment, there will come the peace, prosperity and progress we all desire.
Let us not give in to the hopelessness, anger and "occupy" Baltimore mentality nor to the tea [arty over-reactions, but rather constructively work together and work out our social problems. I believe that in time we will not evolve into a non-existent "true city" but we will become a "Progressive Metropolitan Port City."
Samuel A. Culotta, Baltimore