The Block Survives Despite Fires and Police Raids

City’s historic adult entertainment strip continues to prevail
by Peter Hermann (The Baltimore Sun, 12/11/2010)

photo by Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun

The city’s adult strip known as The Block, as seedy as it is historic, is, if nothing else a survivor.

Civic leaders long ago erased references to the entertainment zone from tour books and promotional pamphlets, yet visitors still come to gawk and to indulge.

A hundred federal agents converged on the clubs in 1971. One mayor tried to buy the clubs out. His successor tried to move them to the city’s industrial hinterlands. State police sent 500 troopers in on raids in 1994. A grand jury investigated alleged kickbacks to liquor board inspectors.

All the efforts kill it failed.

On Monday, fire destroyed several buildings, including Gayety Show World, shutting down most clubs on the strip on East Baltimore Street through Thursday. Work crews are still shoring up buildings as federal investigators search for a cause.

But as spectacular as the fire was, and if history is any guide, the blaze that sent plumes of flames shooting into the cold night air will probably not accomplish what a long line of police, politicians and civic leaders have tried to do but couldn’t: close the clubs permanently.

Continue reading “The Block Survives Despite Fires and Police Raids” at The Baltimore Sun.

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