For the past five years I have been working on a project titled Baltimore: A History, Block by Block. It is an extension of my graduate thesis at MICA, where I photographed every building on Old Town Mall (formerly Gay Street) in East Baltimore, researched the history behind the neighborhood, how it declined, and what is being planned for its future. Currently there are ten main streets in Baltimore that I am photographing. Using a 4x5 view camera and Fujichrome Velvia slide film, I photograph these streets, building by building, block by block. So far I’ve documented approximately 75 city blocks (including Old Town Mall) with about 525 images. Some streets I’ve only gotten a couple blocks and more for others. I’ve photographed every building on Howard Street from Lombard to Read Street with the exception of a few larger modern buildings. I’ve also documented every building on West Baltimore Street (the subject of this exhibition) from Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. to Fulton Avenue. I plan on finishing the photography component of this project hopefully by this summer or whenever I run out of the stock of film I purchased for the project. I have approximately 200 sheets left, which I want to ration out to streets I’ve photographed the least, including Greenmount Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. I will also be researching the history of individual buildings and blocks as well as overall neighborhood history and finding historic images of what these places used to be.
There are a lot of changes happening in Baltimore and in each of the neighborhoods I’ve been photographing. My goal is to leave you not only with a sense of the condition of our city, but also a feeling of urgency to see that it is improved and preserved and that the rich history behind the architecture and the community is not lost, but rather embraced.
Funded by Baltimore, MD (April 2016)