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The machine with which you mow your lawn is, of course, your paramour.) It has long been called Survival City. Another monicker was Mobtown, after its citizens' proclivity for rioting. Because it was long famed for 50 beer, 100 crabcakes and 150 rye whisky, it was more affectionately dubbed Nickel City. Bawlamer, 252 years old, was traditionally a blue-collar, beer-and-shot town, built on 19th century technologies, mainly steel and shipbuilding, that have since trailed off, as has its population. Of its 780,000 people, down from 939,000 in 1960, almost 55% are now black, of whom 40% or more are jobless.
A urban evangelists like Mayor Schaefer or Rouse (coauthor of a 1955 treatise titled No Slums in Ten Years) saw it, Baltimore could become a valuable and joyous town. It is, after all, the home of the Orioles, the Ouija board, the softshell crab, the national anthem, the nation's first passenger railroad (the Baltimore & Ohio), Johns Hopkins Hospital and University, the Preakness, H.L. Mencken and Edgar Allan Poe (not to mention Spiro Agnew). It is also one of the last American possessors of a genuine honky-tonk district, known fondly as The Block, though even that lusty landmark has been sadly vulgarized by topless dancing and a renewal project that has largely plasticized its façade. Mencken once complained that the Baltimore harbor of his youth had smelled in summer like "a billion polecats." Today the Inner Harbor is not a cesspool but a scene of jams and jollity. The white middle class is returning from the suburbs in droves. More than 20% of Harborplace visitors are torsts from out of state. Baltimore is no longer, as they used to say, "a town on the way to another town," or "Washington's Brooklyn."
On his frequent visits to Harbor place, the Most Happy Fella among all strollers and browsers is Jim Rouse himself. Though the Maryland-based Rouse Co. is one of the world's largest real estate development and management organizations (1980 revenues: $119.5 million), controlling a nationwide retail kingdom that in aggregate acreage is bigger than the principality of Monaco, its multimillionaire founder is not a regular at the "21" Club or Maxim's. Rouse is more comfortable with his feet on the ground of his own projects, and the new Baltimore is clearly the one dearest to his heart; indeed, he was a founder of the potent renovationist Greater Baltimore Committee in 1955, and has been a resident witness to its progress over most of the years since. "The only legitimate purpose of a city," he believes fervently, "is to provide for the life and growth of its people." Which is not too far from
Aristotle's injunction: "The goal of the city is to make man happy and safe."