As much pride as I have in my home town of Baltimore, I have always been frustrated by the determination with which it has traditionally isolated itself, economically and culturally, from the rest of the world. Even within its borders, its is a collection of neighborhoods that are more like an archipelago than a single entity. That lack of cohesiveness gives many of those neighborhoods a significant degree of strength. But, at the same time, it isolates many of the weaker ones from avenues (pardon the pun) of help that would change their destiny for the better.
But, worst of all, it tries to isolate itself from its 40-miles-distant neighbor, Washington, D.C., a city that has proven the power of the federal government to transform an entire region into an economic powerhouse (sorry, "free-market" conservatives). Despite this effort, the nation's capital has still had a positive spillover effect on the development of Baltimore's downtown commercial market, and also on the housing market in the city's southern neighborhoods near Interstate 95. In fact, the spillover effect has reached the point at which the Monumental City is attracting more direct investment from south of its borders. Here's an example of one major investor, one whose vision of the region's potential extends all the way to Richmond. In fact, it could extend to Richmond in the south and perhaps even Harrisburg in the north.
How to get to there from here? Well, one solution would be to extend the current light-rail line south so that it connects to the Green and Red lines of the Washington Metro, and then perhaps extend it at the northern end as well. Maybe even across the Pennsylvania border to York, where a signification population of commuters to Baltimore live. But, more than anything else, Baltimoreans need to embrace the idea that becoming part of a larger whole is the key toward a healthier, more prosperous, more enduring Baltimore. There truly is no future in trying to go it on our own.