Plumb Lines

February 1, 2011

Who else?

Filed under: Uncategorized — William Brafford @ 9:30 am

There’s a curious highway running through West Baltimore. To the west of Martin Luther King Boulevard, ramps lead down from West Franklin and West Mulberry to a sunken expressway in a massive trench. This artificial canyon runs for about a mile and then stops abruptly, four or five miles short of the beltway to which it was meant to connect. This stretch of US-40 is known as Baltimore’s “Highway to Nowhere”; BmoreSmart made a video giving a view of  the trench from a nearby rooftop:

The city is now in the process of filling in the trench; the project is now pretty universally recognized as having been a bad idea in the first place. Who would have designed such a thing? From Antero Pietila’s excellent Not in My Neighborhood:

Downtown Baltimore had been under a massive assault since 1944. That year the city hired Robert Moses to plan a new crosstown expressway. No one could argue against better roads; during the war, the few existing arteries in the city had created one of the nation’s worst transportation nightmares. Moses, New York’s indefatigable parks and roads czar, chose a sunken expressway path. He proposed bulldozing through Howard and Charles streets, piercing the heart of the downtown retail district. His plan would have saved, barely, the Roman Catholic basilica, the Walters Art Museum, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library, but dozens of churches and public buildings were earmarked for demolition. All told, Moses proposed to raze two hundred city blocks and relocate some nineteen thousand residents, most of them black. “Nothing which we propose to remove will constitute any loss to Baltimore,” he assured.

-William Brafford


1 Comment »

  1. […] […]

    Pingback by The road to nowhere - Baltimore - Maryland (MD) - City-Data Forum — February 2, 2011 @ 10:54 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: