Consider this amazing fact: with all the changes that have taken place in Baltimore in the past two decades, the last time City Council districts were redrawn was in 1971. Even though the city's population plummeted from about 900,000 to 781,000 by 1981 and three districts (the Fourth, Sixth and Second) lost more than 20 percent of their residents, there was no redrawing of council district lines at all in the 1980s.
Even more remarkable, the redistricting plan unveiled by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke largely maintains the 20-year-old district lines despite further exodus that has reduced the city's population to 736,000. The two main changes involve shifting Bolton Hill and Reservoir Hill from the Second District to the Fourth and moving Poppleton from the Fourth to the Sixth District. In a city that is 62 percent black, the First District would be 28 percent black, the Second 70 percent black, the Third 40 percent black, the Fourth 90 percent black, the Fifth more than 60 percent black and the Sixth about 50 percent black, according to the mayor.
"I think it segregates the city -- three white and three black districts -- but let's see," grumbles Second District Councilman Anthony Ambridge. His district would lose Bolton Hill, a restoration neighborhood of Victorian town houses which over the years has forged close political ties to Mount Royal, Charles Village and East Baltimore. As a result of that alliance, the district has elected a black-white fusion ticket since 1971. Only one other area, Northwest Baltimore's Fifth District, has an integrated council delegation.