Old Town is a classic example of the urbanization and transformation all American cities are constantly going through. It is a neighborhood with a rich history full of great success and substantial failure. Like many cities, Baltimore used to be a thriving industrial and port city in the 19th and early 20th century. However, by the end of World War II it started its descent to become one the country's most troubled and impoverished cities. The reasons for this decline are a combination of not only racial discrimination, inequality, and poverty, but also a series of actions taken by the federal government to "renew" areas considered to be slums and promote white flight to the rapidly growing suburbs which resulted in the huge loss of population from the city. Those who could afford to leave did, therefore leaving the poorest population, mainly African-Americans, behind. These actions combined with poor education and the influx of drugs and crime in the past 40-50 years all contributed to the fall of this once great city. Urban renewal projects that were meant to improve so-called "slums," including public housing projects and revitalization plans like the one used in Old Town proved to be complete failures and only made neighborhoods worse. Old Town is one of many neighborhoods to go through these drastic changes and continues to suffer until it is once again forced into "renewal" yet again. The question is will the city, planners, and developers learn from their past mistakes and bring back what was once a true center of community life.
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