Progress, outfitted with stainless steel, granite, roof decks and parking pads, marched into such working-class bastions as Canton and Locust Point. The decorator appointments cracked the neighborhoods' Formstone-encrusted hearts and lured a new breed of city dweller: younger, ambitious, professional.
Longtime residents shook their heads at the endless parade of yuppies and U-Hauls and watched, bewildered, as microbrew pubs replaced corner bars and boutiques moved onto Broadway and the Avenue - our Main Streets.
Just east of downtown, Baltimore's new fashionable neighborhood, Harbor East, was created from whole cloth - that and the imagination of H&S; Bakery magnate John Paterakis. High-rise offices. Expensive condominiums. Hotels. Chic stores and restaurants. A movie multiplex.
So much concentrated action and corporate investment mixed with designer bags, fine wine and sushi that it effectively pulled downtown's center of gravity eastward.
Though Harbor East largely escaped recession's grip, other grand ideas stalled. Ballyhooed downtown skyscrapers never materialized. Lots cleared for shopping centers and condos grassed over.
And quite a few of those renovated homes sat vacant as the decade closed, dust forming on all that stainless steel.