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Don't fear Baltimore, hon

Aw, c'mon, Nidhi Kaith, cheer up ("I'm afraid of Baltimore," Jan. 22)! Don't believe all that stuff you see on television and the Internet about Baltimore. Yes, there are scary parts of town, just as there are wherever you go, but there are many Baltimores besides the one depicted, admittedly with great verisimilitude, on "Homicide."

They didn't have the Internet when I came to Baltimore 50 years ago (from Chicago), so I looked it up in the encyclopedia. I learned that it was the home of H. L. Mencken, the Johns Hopkins University, and Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point, one of the largest steel plants in the world. The steel plant is gone now and in its place as the city's largest employer is — the Johns Hopkins University and Medical Institutions.

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I have walked and ridden my bicycle around the city for all the years I've been here and have not been mugged or experienced bad encounters with the police, although I know people who have. (And yes, I go out at night, as most of us do.) I highly recommend you try using a bicycle when you arrive; it's a fine way to see and learn about the city. Also you can park for nothing right in front of your destination.

So welcome to Baltimore, Nidhi. You'll find it's not so bad and that, strangely enough, the place grows on you. The institutions such as the one your husband will attend are the major reason that the city receives an annual infusion of bright, creative people. Some of them stick around and work to make Baltimore a better place. Baltimore is at the crossroads now in a lot of ways and we need new ideas more than ever.

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And please contact the Peale Center when you get here. We have some knowledgeable people who can help orient you — to the real Baltimore, not the one on television.

James D. Dilts, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture.

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