HOW BALTIMORE BECAME THE NEW YORK OF THE SOUTH: EUROPEAN IMMIGRATION BETWEEN 1867-1914 AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND THE PORT OF BALTIMORE
Cassie, Ronald Lee
HOW BALTIMORE BECAME THE NEW YORK OF THE SOUTH: EUROPEAN IMMIGRATION BETWEEN 1867-1914 AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND THE PORT OF BALTIMORERon Cassie, MAMentor: Charles Edward Yonkers, JDABSTRACTLocated 40 miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line, Baltimore was the fourth –largest city in the U.S. and the largest in the South before the Civil War, serving as the economic hub of the Mid-Atlantic region. Although Baltimore was always home to a significant free black population, the city was centered in a largely slave-holding state. Although Maryland choose neither Union or Confederate sides during the Civil War before President Abraham Lincoln sent federal troops into Baltimore, the city’s port business in the middle of the 19th century focused on the rural exports of tobacco, cotton, grain, and flour; ship building; and the importation of sugar.Politically, economically, and culturally, Maryland was, at the time, aSouthern state full of plantations from the Eastern Shore across the state’s central area around Baltimore. The city, however, was more a blend of white Southern and white Northern influences, a marginalized African-American citizenry, a significant group of German immigrants, and more recent Irish arrivals at the start of the Civil War.However, after the construction of the Locust Point immigration pier in 1867until its closing in 1914—essentially the period between the Civil War and the start of World War I—approximately 1.2 million Eastern European immigrants streamed into the South Baltimore peninsula, making Baltimore the second or third busiest U.S. port of entry (depending on the year) for new arrivals and the busiest south of New York. The Locust Point immigration pier was privately funded and built by B & O Railroad, the first common-carrier railroad company in the U.S, and by the 1890s, an estimated 90 percent of immigrants arriving at Locust Point traveled directly to a destination further west. The rest, often the poorest of the immigrant groups, remained in Baltimore, heading into the city’s burgeoning canning, steel, garment, shipbuilding, railroad, and manufacturing industries.These immigrants—initially more Germans, but then larger numbers ofPoles, followed by Czech, Slovak, Ukrainian, Lithuanian, Russians, as well as Eastern European Jews—transformed and left an imprint on Baltimore’s identity that continues to this day. Italians and Greeks would come, too, forming today’s “Little Italy” and “Greektown,” but generally by train, often from New York and Ellis Island because there was no direct steamship service from the South Mediterranean region to Baltimore. Ultimately, each group contributed to the development of working-class neighborhoods around the port, particularly in Southeast Baltimore, where the descendants, touchstones, and vestiges of each immigrant group persist—and strongly so in several areas. These immigrants filled the city’s iconic row houses, built churches and synagogues, organized labor unions, savings and loans, and other institutions, opened restaurants and businesses, entered politics, and created institutions, schools, parks, public works, art, traditions, ethnic festivals, and cultural practices that, in some cases, have remained in place for a century or more, and continue to inform Baltimore’s sense of place into the 21st century. And, while gentrifying in many areas, some of these original immigrant neighborhoods in East Baltimore now serve as home to the city’s growing immigrant groups from Latin America as the latest chapter in Baltimore’s immigrant history is being laid atop the previous century’s story.
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