Sunday, August 8, 2010


Today, I rode my bike to Hollander Ridge, or anyway what used to be Hollander Ridge (it was demolished on July 9, 2000). Hollander Ridge was a 1,000-unit public housing development built in 1976 by the Housing Authority of Baltimore City on a 60-acre parcel at the city / county line. Hollander Ridge was virtually 100% African-American when it was demolished.

I biked to Hollander Ridge to see this wrought iron perimeter fence:

I learned about this fence while reading Judge Marvin Garvis’s Thompson v. HUD decision, which devotes 12 pages (out of 322) to its remarkable story.

In 1998, HABC, with the approval and financial support of HUD, Senator Barbara M ccluskey, then Mayor Kurt Schmoke, the Rosedale Community, and a few Hollander Ridge residents constructed the 8-foot tall, spiked, wrought iron fence around the perimeter of Hollander Ridge to separate it from the adjacent, predominantly white suburban community of Rosedale. The result was something very strange and perhaps unprecedented: a gated community created by outsiders to keep insiders in (well, I suppose a prison is a precedent for this).

The fence is the product of a HUD pilot project to seek solutions for crime in HUD-supported public housing. HUD, with feedback from HABC, selected Hollander Ridge as the focus of the pilot, and the Department of the Treasury deployed a Secret Service team to study the site and make suggestions for improving public safety. By that time, crime was rampant at Hollander Ridge. Garvis describes "check days" (days when elderly residents would receive their monthly social security checks), when “the high-rise area was, in effect, an open air drug and sex market.” The Secret Service Team’s report, entitled “Operation Safe Home," confirmed the existence of serious public safety problems at Hollander Ridge, and recommended, among other things, that “A fence perimeter [be established] around the community limiting pedestrian access.” It was built in 1998.

But the fence—which cost as much as $1.7 million according to a Baltimore Sun article—wouldn’t have been built had the white Rosedale residents not organized and complained that the city-county line was too porous, and that the crime from Hollander Ridge was lowering Rosedale property values, and making Rosedale less safe. As Garvis notes, while some were motivated by legitimate concerns (in 1996 an elderly Rosedale woman was slain in her home), “certainly, some of these Baltimore
County residents were motivated by racial animus directed against the African-American residents of Hollander Ridge."

And how. Thinking about it, I'm reminded of John Carpenter's 1981 anti-urban classic Escape from New York, which posits New York City as giant, maximum-security prison, complete with fortified bridges and tunnels to keep the riff-raff out of the suburbs on the other side. (Remember the scene when The Duke, played by Isaac Hayes, gets sprayed with bullets trying to climb the border wall?) It also makes me think of Kenneth Jackson's essay “Gentleman’s Agreement,” where Jackson writes that although they are not physical boundaries, “the boundaries between our cities and our suburbs are as real and effective as both the fortifications of medieval Europe or the gated communities of our own time.” This 8-foot tall, spiked, $1.7 million wrought-iron perimeter fence built along Baltimore’s city-county line is a surreal landmark that--like Detroit's infamous HOLC wall--speaks volumes about race relations in metropolitan America.


  1. I doubt the fence is a icon of race relations and more s symbol of the class system in our United States society. The Hopeless, Ignorant Poor class of people in United States society are predators and parasites in human form. Not all poor have fallen into hopelessness but the life of a social predator and parasite defines life for those who have nothing to live for. Societies parasite and predator poor lie, cheat, steal, have wanton sex, breeding illegitimate children with reckless abandon. Parasite and predator poor use drugs and engage in every other sick perversity because they don't know better and don't want to know better. Willful ignorant is the most intractable ignorance of all.

    Hollander Ridge was a noble experiment gone wrong. The humane and socially responsible qualities that lead one out of the gutter come from within. Simply placing poor socially sick scum in the county will not cause it to bloom into a socially responsible respectable human being any more than planting dollars in the ground will cause money trees to take root. Black skin does not a social parasite make. Poor social predators and parasites come in many colors, races and backgrounds. Just so happens Hollander Ridge became a magnet for black low life.

    Fill Hollander Ridge with the same low quality of poor white parasite and predator the crime, prostitution, drug abuse violence and ignorance would have had a white face. America today is still racist but modern segregation in the United States is just beginning to occur based on class. You see race based segregation rightly has a bad name in this politically correct world. Today's new segregation is founded on the solid footing of economic strength to push the poor around, fence them in and treat them like dirt to be swept into dust bins we call ghettos.

    Baltimore has long been a city of ghettos but; today its ok to build economic ghettos. Economic ghettos are built for social parasites and predators who are too lazy, stupid or weak minded to embrace the mindset needed to use education and life management tools needed lift themselves out of poverty. Hollander Ridge was a prison for the poor and stupid that protected economically powerful in society from them while protecting the weak minded poor from themselves.

  2. "The result was something very strange and perhaps unprecedented: a gated community created by outsiders to keep insiders in (well, I suppose a prison is a precedent for this)"

    No, actually it's to keep the niggers separated from law abiding humans.

    1. You're the nigger, you pussy. The woman who was murdered was old and deserved to die. She didn't have much longer to live. You're the one who probably murdered her.

    2. That is the ugliest word ever. It's fucked up to say that statement be you black or white. I agree with the statements by the blogger and the Anonymous from 2012. Ghetto black people (or "niggers" as you viciously put) act in a similar manner as ghetto white people. You and the individual who replied (Emme Gee) are HORRIBLE human beings that need to reevaluate your life and purpose here. Also, FYI, I'm black and intelligent, and feel your statements are those of individuals who can not articulate their views in a more appropriate manner. Hell, you probably can't understand what I'm writing. Your ignorance will be your own undoing.

    3. This is a very sad commentary on our collective home in the Baltimore Washington region. One cannot wall in or wall out people and expect to build a beautiful city for all.

      Who designs and builds such things ?

  3. He said the wall would be dismembered before the first snowfall and the concrete would be used again elsewhere.
    Fence Company

  4. Just on leaf popping out counts as being non-compliant, so be sure to give your plants plenty of room to grow. chain link fence prices

  5. “You are too afraid of taking risks on a creative solution.”


  6. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is magnificent blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back.


  7. So which Politicians, Planners in their Bureaucracy and Developers feeding it all by campaign contributions were responsible ?

    Can we give them a score for their failure to build meaningful mixed use places with streets for people and places to go integrated in with existing communities ?

    We need to do better in the Free State.

    The lack of community vision is a crime and there needs to be repercussions for lack of delivery.

    Craig Purcell, Architect & Urban Designer