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Mapping Baltimore's Addiction
October 25, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

On the Trail of Addiction (Baltimore)
posted by josher71 (20 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's a cool project (and the article was written by a friend of mine.) I think what's interesting on the map is how far north heavy drug use goes. You can see it out Loch Raven Blvd just at the edge of the map.
posted by OmieWise at 8:28 AM on October 25, 2011


I'm surprised there's a hotspot for drugs and violence near the stadiums. I've always thought of that as one of the safer places in the city. I used to go there all the time to go clubbing at the Paradox under 295.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on October 25, 2011


What a fantastic use of (the relatively new) GPS technology.
posted by Melismata at 8:31 AM on October 25, 2011


Cross-referencing the maps with Google, it looks like Irvington Park is the place to go if you want to score without getting shot.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:31 AM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pigtown is right there, empath. Definitely a lot of drug/violence activity in that neighborhood.
posted by josher71 at 8:32 AM on October 25, 2011


Anyone with more experience with Baltimore than I have able to explain the spot on the west side of the city that has very high drug use, but very little crime?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:32 AM on October 25, 2011


Anyone with more experience with Baltimore than I have able to explain the spot on the west side of the city that has very high drug use, but very little crime?

Check the racial breakdown in the third map.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on October 25, 2011


(although on the east side of the city there's a sizable white neighborhood with both high drugs and high crime, so i don't know why that white neighborhood on the west side has so much drugs but so little crime -- maybe its mobbed up so they keep the violence under control? I dunno).
posted by empath at 8:38 AM on October 25, 2011


the map shows that Duke gets high in the Arabs stables... :(
posted by entropone at 9:14 AM on October 25, 2011


Oh I get it. The hour hand corresponds to the X axis and the minute hand is for the Y axis!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:14 AM on October 25, 2011


Interesting article, thanks for posting.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:17 AM on October 25, 2011


empath: I'm surprised there's a hotspot for drugs and violence near the stadiums.

During my senior year h.s. class trip, we spent a day at the inner harbor and ended at a Orioles game. One of my friends was mugged outside of the stadium - he also had the presence of mind to ask the guy for his ID back after the mugger took his cash and credit cards.

They caught the mugger hours later....near the stadium! Good strategy.

I know it's a small sample size, but as an out-of-towner it was apparent that the stadium had some crime issues even without the mugging.
posted by glaucon at 9:33 AM on October 25, 2011


Interesting article, thanks for posting.

Yeah, fantastic post. Thanks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:50 AM on October 25, 2011


“you have neighborhoods that have drugs without violence, but not many neighborhoods that have violence without drugs.”

Basically it's saying drugs don't automatically mean a violent neighborhoods, but you can't have a violent neighborhood with drugs. Sort of like cholesterol doesn't automatically cause clogged arteries, but you can't have clogged arteries without cholesterol. Which raises the question, are clogged arteries caused by cholesterol, or just a symptom of something else (inflammation, genes). Thus, is violence caused by drugs, or is it a symptom of something else and drugs just a contributing symptom of something else: namely, poverty.
posted by stbalbach at 10:02 AM on October 25, 2011


I wish they'd showed the maps of moods and stress levels.
posted by desjardins at 12:00 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised there's a hotspot for drugs and violence near the stadiums. I've always thought of that as one of the safer places in the city. I used to go there all the time to go clubbing at the Paradox under 295.

There is public housing just east of the stadiums, along with a small neighborhood that's kind of depressed. It's also interesting to look at the drug use levels down the peninsula. That area is rapidly gentrifying, so perhaps that will decline over time.

or is it a symptom of something else and drugs just a contributing symptom of something else: namely, poverty.

Bingo. The drug use correlates to the poorer areas of the city; the violence correlates to the poorest.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely you can have a violent neighborhood without (currently illegal) drugs. For one, alcohol is not only the most commonly used intoxicating drug, but it is also the drug with the biggest pharmacological link to violence, at least in our culture (in some cultures, alcohol actually doesn't tend to increase violence). Secondly, humans were (see the Pinker thread!) plenty violent long before today's drugs were even invented, indeed more so than we are now in Western industrialized countries.

Something like 80% of "cocaine related violence" is actually related to the trade (typically in areas of new markets or where there's instability in a market, like after a big bust) and you rarely get drug related violence of any sort among middle class and rich people. Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

The violence seen in poor neighborhoods has very little to do with the pharmacology of drugs and much more to do with the "culture of honor" (respect on the street is often the only source of dignity and meaning) despair and hopelessness and stress of poverty. In other words, the violence and the drugs are two side effects of the same underlying issues, the drugs aren't causing the violence, merely exacerbating it.
posted by Maias at 3:03 PM on October 25, 2011


I think Maias may be on to something, in that drug related violence is likely centered around drug transactions. When I've looked at this in DC, I know the police found higher incidences of violence around the open air PCP markets than in other areas of the city, even other areas of drug activity. I believe one difference is that heroin is the primary problem drug in Baltimore and that may modify the effects in some way.

I'd also like to see this mapped according to vacancy rates; meaning vacant rowhouses may translate into space to operate illegally without interference. I think a vacancy map of the west side would highlight the areas Bulgaroktonos is asking about (I occasionally bike through some of those neighborhoods).

Fore example, see this map created by a local college student. It isn't at all comprehensive, but you do get a sense of the problem if you zoom in on the area between the West Baltimore MARC station and Lockerman Bundy Elementary. Or see this unattributed map. Or here is a map possibly from 2006 attributed to the Baltimore Sun (scroll down).

Obviously, there is some correlation between poverty and vacant houses. But I think vacancy is important on its own.
posted by postel's law at 5:49 PM on October 25, 2011


The drug use correlates to the poorer areas of the city; the violence correlates to the poorest.

Except where it doesn't. On the violence maps, the very orange southeastern edge of the city has neighborhoods with comparable median incomes to the very green southwestern edge of the city. In fact, if you look at the section of the violence map for Fells Point, it's pretty consistently orange except for a dot of green that is the Perkins Homes housing project.

Fells Point and Canton are orange to red on the violence maps despite incomes well above the city median. Yes, there was a rash of armed muggings last summer, but on the whole, crime in those areas is property crime. So why are they orange? My suspicion is that they scored high on criteria like public drunkenness, yelling, and fighting due to the concentration of bars that attract non-residents, but the article doesn't provide enough information about the methodology to know for sure.

For anyone who wants to delve more deeply, CityView will let you overlay demographic and income statistics (among other things) and drill down to neighborhood level.
posted by weebil at 7:18 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking as a former resident, Baltimore is one part lovely and two parts way fucked up.

Greats bands though.
posted by bardic at 8:38 PM on October 25, 2011


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