The Great East Baltimore Raze-and-Rebuild

After Faltering, a Johns Hopkins-Led Development Project Reorients Around a School

Story by Dax-Devlon Ross

Photography by Jati Lindsay

Published on Jul 29, 2013

The East Baltimore neighborhood of Middle East has had a fraught history with Johns Hopkins, the nation’s leading medical institution. As far back as the 1950s, residents of this largely black community have faced evictions and displacement to make room for hospital and university expansions, while the world immediately outside the Hopkins walls became home to the city’s highest crime rate, fastest shrinking population and greatest percentage of vacant homes. Now, the latest redevelopment promise — a $1.8 billion, 10-years-in-the-making endeavor to raze 88 acres worth of abandoned blocks and rebuild the neighborhood with a Hopkins-partnered primary school as the centerpiece — has similarly grown entangled with racial tension and accusations of corruption. But this time, a plan to both enroll students from the neighborhood and attract new people to the area means that the needs of Middle East may not get left behind. Writer Dax-Devlon Ross sets out to discover what, if anything, sets the East Baltimore Development Incorporated (EBDI) apart from the blunders of the past.

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