What is vacancy?
Understanding abandoned houses in Baltimore
Baltimore (2010), Eric Fischer
Too many houses. Too few people.
But don't you wonder...
Where did all the houses come from?
Where did all the people go?
Baltimore (1838), George W. Boynton. JScholarship
Baltimore (1886), John F. Weishampel. JScholarship
In January 1891, a crowd watched a “quaint but pretentious little building of classic architecture” disappear “before the march of modern improvement.”
Tusculum, 1891. Maryland Historical Society
That Baltimore in her rapid growth is not only the queen city of the South, but is outstripping by far other large cities in its claim to the title of "The City of Homes," is attested by the almost unprecedented demand for modern dwellings and the quickness of builders to realize this demand.
—Baltimore Sun, 1908
The number of vacant houses in the city is due both to the many dwellings being built in the suburbs and the dilapidated condition of many in Baltimore.
— James Cary Martien, 1910
HOLC Map (1937), JScholarship
"Area H" now Poe Homes (1939). Archives of the Afro-American Newspaper
200 block of S. Caroline Street (1940). Digital Maryland
1952 Map. Courtesy the Afro.
Demolition: $15K to $20K for each house
Building a support wall: $10K+ for each side
Reroofing a collapsed house: $35K+
Relocating a renter before demolition: $25K for each + market value of the remaining real estate – $10K
Relocating a homeowner before demolition: $175K
Low subsidy rehab grants to developers: $20K to $30K
Rehabilitating a distressed rowhouse: $100K+