Baltimore is not Brooklyn, nor should it be

In response to Charles Belfoure's commentary ("Why can't Baltimore be more like Brooklyn Sept. 19), I would ask "why can't Baltimore just be itself?"

It is always seductive to make apples-to-oranges comparisons between cities. Brooklyn is not the be-all-end-all for how a city might function or how a city might turn itself around. While no one would question that New York City's revitalization deserves sustained study, New York's revitalization is also not without its cautionary tales. Brooklyn's rising real estate values and taxes have rendered it an enclave of Manhattan — increasingly inaccessible to longtime residents and creative hipster types alike. I hear they are all being pushed out to Queens nowadays.

I work in a creative industry among lots of creative people. If Baltimore becomes "more like Brooklyn," I will likely not be able to afford to live here, just like I cannot afford to live or work within 90 miles of New York or Boston. I suspect the same would be true for a great many people. So, I would ask, is the suggestion that we be more like Brooklyn an appropriate vision for the kind of city that Baltimore should be?

Mr. Belfoure rightly observes that Baltimore suffers from many urban problems. Unfortunately, his despair over such entrenched issues as crime, poverty, neglected neighborhoods and an apparent lack of diversity and general progress has us asking ourselves why we cannot be more like someone else. This reasoning regretfully downplays many of Baltimore's strengths — the greatness of its particular history, the richness of its unique cultural identity, and the fact that progress has been made through the efforts of a diverse plurality of institutions, organizations and individuals.

Instead of invoking a singular Brooklyn fantasy as an aspiration for Baltimore, why can't we first get inspired by and build upon what great things are already happening here?

Eric D. Zahn, Baltimore

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