'Destructive Shadow' at Inner HarborEditor: The monstrous...


December 08, 1991

'Destructive Shadow' at Inner Harbor

Editor: The monstrous IBM Corp.-T. Rowe Price Associates building is a tall, ugly, brawny bully threatening everything and everyone within its reach. It has cast a dreary and destructive shadow over one of the best and most dramatic inner harbor developments in our nation.

What a shame that these corporations, their out-of-town architects and city officials were either asleep or not mindful of the needs of others when they imposed such a great penalty on Baltimore's beautiful Inner Harbor.

Edward Gunts' excellent Dec. 1 article, ''Going to the Wall,'' paints the dreary picture of the building at 100 East Pratt Street that should not have been built.

As Gunts says: by rising 18 stories above the 10-story height limit, this is ''the first building to so blatantly violate the (original) master plan'' for the Inner Harbor area. Among many other valid criticisms of the building, Gunts describes the effect of the building as ''rather frothy and frivolous'' in spite of its domination of the skyline from many vantage points.

I agree with Gunts' assessment.

Gunts also points out that the building forms a ''solid wall that separates the harbor from the municipal district'' and that ''no hTC fewer than a dozen tall buildings have lost all or part of their harbor views as a result of its construction.''

Surely, there was a better way to present the mighty IBM and T. Rowe Price to our community and The Sun/Kenneth Lamthe world and for them to contribute to, not detract from, the overall success of the Inner Harbor.

Archibald T. Fort.

Phoenix. Editor: A photograph in The Sun, captioned ''Syrian Jews for Assad,'' shows Rabbi Ibrahim Hamra of the Damascus Jewish community joining ''hundreds of Syrian Jews'' rallying in support of Syrian President Assad's ''re-election bid.'' Rabbi Hamra is smiling broadly and grasping two doves, while other Jews hold a partially obscured, but very large banner in Hebrew and a picture of a benign Assad.

How many partial truths -- or full lies -- does this photograph and its caption contain!

The 4,500 remaining Jews in Syria have lived in terror and repression for decades, unable to travel freely or be re-united with relatives. Hafez el Assad has been president of Syria for decades, staying in office with military force which he has used to kill tens of thousands of his own citizens.

Are we really to believe that this rally of Syrian Jews was a spontaneous expression of affection and enthusiasm for a man whose regime has one of the bloodiest records in the world, including involvement in terrorist attacks on Americans?

Robert Moses Shapiro.



Editor: Ray Jenkins' ''Repeating History'' (Nov. 17) has as much to do with historical understanding as that pathetic attempt to explain President Kennedy's assassination which made the rounds in 1963 and 1964 -- Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy had seven letters in their last names, they were elected century apart (1860, 1960), etc.

These kinds of notions about the way history works mislead people into thinking that one can understand events as cosmically determined. This is intellectual activity on the cheap, and unworthy of a serious journalist who usually shows a more level-headed approach to and respect for the past.

Mr. Jenkins' particular theses, that U.S. history has played itself out in hundred-year cycles is simply untenable. Jenkins asserts that the civil rights era of the 1960s followed by a century the Civil War and Reconstruction period (the first civil rights movement) of the 1860s. He carries this thesis forward by noting that the Gilded Age/Robber Baron period of the 1880s has its counterpart in the Go-Go Years of the 1980s.

History teachers to the rescue! If we are to understand current events or the recent past we must understand context. Thus, the timing and existence of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s has as much or more to do with the momentum of the 20th century movement than it has to do with what happened during Reconstruction. To understand the modern movement we must understand not only its historical antecedents but also the context of the events in post-war America: the implications of the ideological nature of World War II; the impact of the demographic shifts in the United States during that war; the momentum of the movement in the courts and in the consciousness of thoughtful people; the appearance on the scene of particular leaders and of a generation of better-educated young black people.

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