Baltimore Then and Now by Alexander D. Mitchell IV is, as the name suggests, a comparison of Baltimore between then (ranging from 1850 to 1950) to now (2001, to be precise). It is probably only truly interesting if you currently or have lived in Charm City, because you can see how things have changed, and how they've stayed the same. The author collected a large number of photos depicting important and interesting moments and places in Baltimore's long history, and then shot new ones from the same position and perspective, giving a near perfect illusion of looking directly into the past.

Some, such as the shot of Charles Street, show the devastation wrought by the immense 1904 fire that leveled much of Baltimore, and how the city has recovered in the near century since. Others, like the ones of City Hall, show that parts of the city have remained nearly unchanged for 70 or more years. But most show a graudual evolution, as mansions fall into disrepair, and other buildings are refurbished after decades of neglect. Each pair of photos is accompanied by lengthy captions explaining the history and details of the subjects. The author is obviously critical of some recent changes, as are many Baltimorons who would like (or think they would like) a return to the industrial economy Baltimore had prior to the 1960s.

My main disappointment in the book was the lack of any photos from the Charles Village and Hampden neighborhoods, and very few from Waverly. Since I spend most of my time in those areas, I would have been interested to see more about the history of them.

For its cost ($10.99 from the Baltimore Costco), I would consider it well worth it if you have any interest in Baltimore or it's past. Hell, at that price, buy it, put it on your coffee table, and pretend you do.

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