I was there a year ago. It was a mixed bag. I couldn't walk 10 yards without a beggar hitting me up for money.
You were in the tourist area, primarily the Inner Harbor. The beggars know where the money is. For years there was this guy -- Lenny? -- who would roam the area east of the Inner Harbor (not quite into Little Italy) and flash open his trench coat with watches for people to buy. He seemed more like a street comic than a serious hot-watch salesman. John Waters is right when he says that Baltimore is full of people that just don't really fit in anywhere else. Of course, he may have been referring only to drag queens, big hair and Hons, but that's just his slice of life.
West Lexington, north of the tracks and west of MLK Boulevard is about 2 steps above a shit hole. A few streets through there have been revitalized and are decent. The rest ... oy! Yeah, I don't want my car to break down through there. I travel through that section of the city all too often.
And it was the usual baloney scam: "I am driving a bus for a church group that broke down a couple blocks away. We need some money to repair the bus..."
I seem to attract that anywhere I go, but it's never been a church bus. Always out of gas ...
In the inner harbor they have pedestrian bridges from the hotels. Several homeless people used them to do number 2s in them.
Strange. I haven't used any of those hotel bridges in years and some of them have been closed off to non-guests for some time. Maybe they've been re-opened for the general public? I'm more likely to suspect that somebody has let their dogs take a shit up there, but who knows.
Lexington St market is a wonderful place. I ate oysters there the size of my palm. No joke. and the crab cakes are for-flipping-real. However, to get there you must run a gauntlet through one of the worst neighborhoods I have ever been through in my life. Cracked out zombies shuffle along the sidewalks.
Check the comments:
The crab cake meccaTotally true.
Of Baltimore but beware
This place was awesome. Great food choices for every taste and an interesting crowd. You get the ultimate Baltimore experience: crackheads and crab cakes!
I ate a shit-ton of crabs at Moe's. I also drank a lot of beer. It brought me as close to the divine as I can imagine. There is another Moe's around the block, but it's a pretender.
Eat not there.
Baltimore is chock full of great food, especially seafood, as are most places in Maryland. After living here for 25+ years, and going other places (outside of Maryland) to try seafood, I can tell you that the ability to prepare seafood is a specialty here that is equaled nowhere else. Even our tiny shit-shacks on creaky piers in the Bay know how to make good seafood whereas in most other places there are only one or two fine restaurants that know how to make good seafood. Crabs and crabcakes are the specialty. The best time in Maryland is a warm summer day with steamed crabs and good beer (not NattyBo).
There are good things in Baltimore. There is also danger and shit. I mean both literally. Like everything, it is not monolithic. I would go back for Moe's and to watch the Yankees beat the piss out of the Uh-Os. (I flipping love baseball.) I have very good things to say about Camden Yards, though do not buy crab cakes at the park.
Camden Yards is a very nice place. I wouldn't buy any seafood at a ballpark. I would buy only what they know how to make best: hotdogs and pretzels.
It seemed to me Baltimore needed more blue collar jobs and less tourist bullshit. You just cannot support a city that size with tourism at the waterfront.
There is a lot more to Baltimore besides the tourist trade. The Port of Baltimore does a lot of business. If you live East of the Mississippi River and you drive a car built in Japan, it came through Baltimore. There are giant lots of freshly baked cars near the ports that most people never see -- nobody really wants to go down there. Tons of other things come through the ports. The steel mill closed, McCormick Spice moved to the suburbs. The Social Security Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) have been headquartered just outside of Baltimore for 60+ years.
Baltimore is also home to a lot of medical research facilities despite the blue-collar history of the city. Johns Hopkins has 4 campuses and University of Maryland medical, dentistry and law schools are in Baltimore, as well. Government, education and charitable institutions offer lots of employment for the region. Colleges are everywhere. Surrounding BWI are tons of high-tech companies, warehouses and who knows what else.
The city itself is slowly morphing into a place to live, be entertained, get medical care and get educated.