What's in that name, Pigtown?

January 02, 1994|By Mike Klingamen

For generations, this downtown neighborhood close to Camden Yards has seemed almost Dickensian: a working-class district where humor, pathos, pride and concern for the people next door take the edge off hard times.

With its narrow streets, weathered buildings and scraggly skyline, Pigtown evokes a 19th-century Baltimore where people walked to work for the railroad, set clocks by the whistles and swept soot off the sidewalks.

Oddball things often happened. In the early part of this century, the spectacle of pigs being driven through the streets, from stockyards to slaughterhouse, was commonplace.

Today, children at play along Sargeant Street no longer see those quaint sights. Some youngsters can't enjoy the outdoors because their parents are fearful of crime on streets turned mean.

SG Moreover, the train whistles are silent and walk-to-work industrial

jobs have vanished -- while welfare and food stamps proliferate.

But, even without any prosperity, Pigtown still tries to be a genuine neighborhood and wears its blue collar proudly.

(The word "ain't" isn't frowned on here.)

D8 The community of 6,250 -- bounded by the B&O Museum,

Carroll Park, Monroe Street, Russell Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard -- resists city efforts to push it upscale; the name Pigtown is a source of pride, even though City Hall for years has tried to get residents to accept the more gentrified name of "Washington Village."

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