Every year or two The New York Times re-does their “36 hours in Baltimore” travel story and with every iteration they seem to be moving farther and farther away from Ye Olde Inner Harbor tourist zone and more toward arts-ifying our iconography.
In 2007, they used a “Tall Ship” image. In 2009 it was the big pink Cafe Hon flamingo in Hampden. Yesterday they published the latest re-branding, with a photo montage dominated by a bearded partier flashing gleaming thighs in short-shorts and cowboy boots at the Windup Space at Station North.
“Baltimore’s trumpeted glass-and-steel Inner Harbor development, with its chain restaurants, neon-loud amusements and brand-name shopping, feels so counterintuitive as a symbol for the city,” Charly Wilder wrote.” But walk in any direction and the city’s charm reasserts itself.”
They point visitors to the “grandly decrepit neighborhoods,” dive bars and artsy enclaves in far-flung parts of the city: to the crazy wild animal entrees at Corner BYOB in Hampden, to Clementine in Hamilton, to Normal’s and Pete’s Grille, up Greenmount Avenue, to West Baltimore’s Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower and Nudashank gallery and the Poe House and Museum on Amity Street “where Poe meets ‘The Wire.’”
As Baltimore city residents and civic leaders debate downtown vs. uptown, tourists vs. locals, manufacturing vs. arts/technology, it’s worth pondering how others see us and perhaps re-draw our tourism landscape . . .