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Moving from Pigtown - a Retrospective Look

Today is Saturday, and I am moving to my new apartment on Monday. My vehicle is full of boxes of my belongings, and I’m ready. Though it’s bittersweet since my boyfriend (maybe?) is not moving with me, I am very happy to be moving to a much nicer and more agreeable location. Finally, I think this will be the place that I call home. Because I haven’t found such a place in the five years I’ve lived in this city.

Least of all, with this place in Pigtown. I’d like to take a retrospective view of my time here. When we were prospecting for a place to live together, we (mostly me) landed on Pigtown. It wasn’t glamorous, but it wasn’t that bad. It was pretty close to work for us, and the rent was cheap. We found this house, which was spacious, and had a nice kitchen. My boyfriend was never a fan, because he grew up in the inner-city, and he recognized many signs of decay in this neighborhood that flew over my naïve head. But he went along with it, and I tried to convince him that it would be fine, and we’d grow to like it.

Boy, was I wrong. BF went to work the day we moved in, so Jethro and I were at home all day getting moved in and set up. I realized the gravity of my miscalculation of how bad our area was on that first day, the first time I walked Jethro. I walked him down our street and up a neighboring street, where I was catcalled, and noticed the decayed condition of the houses. Aside from the catcaller, the thing that stands out most in my mind is at the end of the street, there was a man who lived in the corner house who was sitting in his back patio area. The condition of his property was shockingly squalid. Then I noticed the alley, between our block and that block, which was dirty, and the small stretch of Carey St. that we walked on to get back home. Here, I noticed that even in the grassy areas, trash was everywhere. It wasn’t just the alley, or some guy’s back patio that was nasty. The whole damn area was dirty!

A typical alley in Pigtown.

A typical alley in Pigtown.

Over the next few weeks, I realized that the notion I’d had about Pigtown not being so bad were true, east of Cross St. That’s the dividing line. Once you cross that boundary, the neighborhood is completely different. The areas east of Cross St, and south of Washington Blvd., especially along Hamburg St, are actually decent. They are kind of like a downmarket Fed Hill. But we lived west of Cross St., in the deep, deep netherworld. I actually walked around on foot a bit to explore during this time, and came to understand the full picture this way. During one early excursion in the late summer, I noticed this dark green liquid oozing from the gutters. That is still a mystery to me. There was also so much more trash, and dumped materials. Also, when we first moved in, there were gangs of guys who would just stand on the block. (Thankfully, this stopped once the weather cooled down, and hasn’t been as much of a problem since.) Almost certainly drug dealers. Not only was our new home a dump, it was dangerous too.


Over the next few months, I noticed that trash was a constant in the gutters of our block. This wasn’t ordinary street litter. This was household garbage: milk jugs, soup cans, diaper boxes. Someone was dumping their garbage in the street, and it was scattered up and down the block.

This was right outside my house one day.

This was right outside my house one day.

A typical example of what the gutters on our block looked like.

A typical example of what the gutters on our block looked like.

It wasn’t just our block either. All of the blocks in our vicinity were heavy littered, but only one other block came close to the filth of ours, and that was the block two down from us with nothing but an auto body shop and a few vacant rowhouses. This block, I called “dumping alley”, because of the grotesque amount of shattered bottles and other discarded items that showed up here.

A dumping hotspot in the lot of a demolished vacant house near "dumping alley".

A dumping hotspot in the lot of a demolished vacant house near "dumping alley".

I don’t know why it's like this here. This doesn't even go into the shouting matches in the street that we listened to, one of which culminated in a TV being thrown out of a window. Nor the numerous times we walked out of our house to see people sitting on our stoop. For a second, I got hope that through organized cleanups (and there were several), we would see an improvement. But each time, the street would just go right back to filthy within a week. The problems in this neighborhood go way deeper than a surface-level cleanup. Pigtown is in a great location, and I know that it will eventually improve, but I’ll be long gone before that happens. For my part, I’m just glad to be looking at the back of it.

Comments

Anonymous Letterwriter (author) on July 04, 2020:

Oh yes, definitely! I still live here, in Bolton Hill now, and I love it. Baltimore is a great city! Thanks for reading :).

Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on July 03, 2020:

Pigtown doesn't sound like a desired place to live in Baltimore but hey I hope you enjoyed the nice parts of the city :) I wouldn't mind visiting Baltimore. I remember hearing very historical city with plenty of sports.

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