Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Segregation in Baltimore Neighborhoods

Baltimore had an increase in another population, African Americans whose experience reflects the story of segregation in the city. After the Civil War, numerous Blacks moved from other cities to Baltimore creating the largest free black population. These generally poor, less skilled Blacks moved next to native free Black populations of educated homeowners. Black neighborhoods expanded rapidly around Pennsylvania and Druid Hill Avenues. The strong Black middle class moved into homes previously owned by Jewish immigrants and created a solid community.

View Barriers of Segregation Ordinance in a larger map

However, the change in Black neighborhoods was not welcomed by all. Many middle class Blacks moved to Druid Hill to get away from congested neighborhoods. But once Black lawyers, George W. McMechen and W. Ashbie Hawkins purchased homes on Druid Hill Avenue, Whites responded with uproar. Because Blacks were moving closer to Whites and eventually into their neighborhoods, the mayor passed the residential housing Segregation Ordinance in 1910 which stated Blacks were prohibited from moving into neighborhoods that were more than fifty percent white and vice versa. This meant they could not move into properties east of McCulloh Street, north of North Avenue or west of Gilmor Street. This law was eventually removed in 1917, right before the annexation which would open up the boundaries of the city and provide options for new homes. Yet who was actually able to move to the new homes, is an important part of the story.

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