Baltimore Traces: Communities in Transition

This blog tracks the growth of the Preserving Places to Baltimore Traces public humanities programming of Professor Nicole King’s public humanities project-based courses. What follows is a brief narrative of the evolution of these public humanities project from 2014 to 2017. The blog will be used to trace the work of the fall 2017 AMST 480/680 Community in America course “Learning from Lexington: Public Markets and the Development of Downtown Baltimore.”


Since 2009, Dr. King’s AMST 422 students have been working in the Baybrook community. This is the blog for the Spring 2014 “Preserving Places” course focused on environmental justice. Check back for updates about what we are doing during the semester.

“Preserving Places Project” develops research, seminars, and public humanities programming for historic but overlooked places in Baltimore. The central theme of the project is that preserving places through interpretation and public programming creates social space—the room for people and perspectives to come together. This theme is connected to the traditional preservation model of rehab and adaptive reuse, as well as the goals of public history to encourage dialogue, discussion, and civil engagement. To preserve places is to recognize their histories and the relationships or attachments people have formed with the built environment over time. A sense of place derives from people giving the physical environment personal meaning. In the most basic sense, to preserve the past stories of places is to create the space for new usages and new stories.

In fall 2012 Professor Nicole King’s third iteration of AMST 422: Preserving Places, Making Spaces in Baltimore course partnered with Steve Bradley’s ART 390: IRC Fellows course to document the cultural history and produce multimedia art projects focused on the Baybrook community. For more information, see the Breaking Ground blog by AMST 422 student Collin Wojciechowski on the fall AMST 422 project or the Orser Center blog entries on the 2012 and 2011 course projects.

Another “Preserving Places” project, “Mapping Baybrook” is an interdisciplinary exploration of place that uses digital mapping to illustrate research on the history and culture of an industrial community in Baltimore, Maryland referred to as Baybrook—a merging of the names of two neighborhoods, Brooklyn and Curtis Bay. This community is a mix of diverse but connected neighborhoods located along the southeast coastline of Baltimore City. The Greater Baybrook area includes the past and present neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Curtis Bay, Fairfield, Hawkin’s Point, Masonville, and Wagner’s Point. The story of Greater Baybrook reflects the tenacity of a community striving for sustainability in the boom and bust of U. S. industrial development. For more information, visit the “Mapping Baybrook” website.

Mapping Baybrook is a collaborative project of Professors Steve Bradley (Visual Arts, UMBC) and Nicole King (American Studies, UMBC) with the Imaging Research Center (IRC) at UMBC.

This project has been supported by a Dresher Center for the Humanities Summer Faculty Fellowship, 2010; an Imaging Research Center/College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences IRC/CAHSS Summer Fellowship, 2011; and a Breaking Ground Grant all from UMBC.

The Post-Industrial Places Project (PIPP) illustrates how the successes and failures of urban industrial development, and the subsequent transition to post-industrialization, contribute to our understanding of America’s historic places and their enduring legacies. A central theme of this proposal is that examining the history and significance of places through virtual mapping and public humanities programming creates social space—the room for diverse people and perspectives to come together. The project explores changes that have occurred in communities throughout American industrialization, with a focus on the stories and memories of the working-class individuals who brought these places to life. A key objective of the work is to document, preserve, and safeguard the history and memories of overlooked industrial places while incorporating their stories into the larger context of urban space, American history, and the future of urban development.

PIPP brings together two successful public programs at UMBC focused on post-industrialization—“Mapping Baybrook” (Bradley & King) and “Mill Stories”(Michelle Stefano, AMST & Bill Shewbridge MCS, New Media Studio). Through the use of virtual mapping, face-to-face programming we are creating a diversity of spaces where people can come together to view and discuss the effects of deindustrialization.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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