First, however, would come a brush with death that would haunt him for years. On April 13, 1976, a deranged Charles A. Hopkins invaded the temporary city hall in the old USF&G building on South Calvert Street. Taking a handgun from a paper bag, he shot a receptionist and ordered an aide to tell him where Mr. Schaefer was.
The aide lied, telling Hopkins that Mr. Schaefer was in Annapolis. The gunman then rampaged through the building, looking for city councilmen. He killed one, Dominic Leone, wounded Carroll Fitzgerald and took a shot at Joseph Curran that might have contributed to his death within a year of a heart condition.
Later that year, Gov. Jimmy Carter would be elected president. The two Democrats never hit it off personally, but the Carter presidency brought a comparative flood of federal money into the nation's cities.
Few mayors exploited the slew of Carter urban programs as aggressively as Mr. Schaefer, who used the largess for summer jobs programs and public works projects. Using federal dollars to fill key gaps in the financing, he persuaded the head of the Hyatt chain to build a sparkling new hotel on Light Street. It would become a centerpiece for the future development of the Inner Harbor.
Mr. Schaefer proved equally adept in working with state government — particularly during the Mandel administration. In 1976, with Mr. Mandel's help, he won approval of two giant projects in a single legislative session: the Baltimore subway and Convention Center.
They would soon be followed by the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the idea for which Mr. Schaefer shamelessly borrowed from Boston. But Baltimore's mayor insisted on building the most fabulous fish tank in the country, topped by a rain forest that would become its architectural signature. When his finance people urged him to cut the rain forest to save money, his response was unprintable.
At the time, the most controversial of Mr. Schaefer's downtown projects was a scheme he cooked up with developer James Rouse to build a retail and restaurant complex along the edge of the Inner Harbor. They called it Harborplace.
The proposal met fierce resistance from Baltimoreans who had only recently become accustomed to open vistas and green space along a harbor once dominated by dilapidated piers. It had become a place of fairs and civic gatherings.
Foes of the project took the matter to referendum in November 1979. They started with momentum behind them, but Mr. Schaefer's allies in the business community rallied behind the proposal.
Mounting a sophisticated campaign and forging alliances with African-American ministers, the pro-Harborplace forces won the referendum. The same Election Day, Baltimore voters handed Mr. Schaefer a third mayoral term.
When it opened in 1980, Harborplace was hailed as a model of a new American urban center — the project that brought other Inner Harbor attractions together. As Baltimoreans and tourists flocked to the new attraction, the fierceness of the struggle to build it was largely forgotten.
As was often the case, Mr. Schaefer found it difficult to take pleasure in his achievement.
Ms. LeBow-Sachs, who served him both as mayor and governor, said that when she and Mr. Schaefer got back to City Hall after the dedication of Harborplace, she stopped in his office and commented on what a great day it was for him.
"He said, 'That already happened. What else is going on in the city?' " Ms. LeBow-Sachs recalled.
A unique style of leading
Mr. Schaefer's legendary impatience drove him to find ways to get around the cumbersome processes of city government. He and his allies were heavily criticized after they established a multimillion-dollar development loan bank that The Sun would dub "the shadow government." Operated by nonelected trustees, the bank was used to expedite projects the City Council might take months to approve.
As in many cases in his public career, Mr. Schaefer did not suffer that criticism gracefully.
On one occasion, Mr. Schaefer zeroed in on reporters who had written articles saying the trustees had made an open-ended agreement with a developer that did not receive the approvals required by the City Charter. A furious mayor called Sun reporter C. Fraser Smith — who would later become Mr. Schaefer's biographer — "a liar, a nitwit."
But Mr. Schaefer also found more deft ways to reply to his critics — once posing as Lamont Cranston, "The Shadow" on old-time radio, to lampoon The Sun's coverage of the trustees.
William Donald Schaefer, governor and mayor, dies
Championed Harborplace, Camden Yards, the National Aquarium and other projects that changed the face of Baltimore
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