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Mary Rizzo <email@example.com>
New Jersey Council for the Humanities & The College of New Jersey
Welcome to Baltimore—Hon!: Class and Heritage in a Postindustrial City
HON! One word, tacked to the end of the “Welcome to Baltimore” sign on Maryland Highway 295. No one knew who put it there or exactly why, but they understood the reference. Used for generations by Baltimore’s white working-class, ‘hon’ is a term of endearment as well as a description of the white women who worked in Baltimore’s factories and diners in the 1950s and 1960s. When the police removed the sign, the media cried foul and it was replaced as mysteriously as it had appeared. But it wasn’t until a State senator proposed withholding one million dollars in highway funding unless the sign was permanently altered to read “Welcome to Baltimore—Hon!” that the controversy really began. Responding to the Senator’s proposal, Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke argued that ‘hon’, a term with little or no meaning to the African American majority of Baltimore, was racist, sexist and an inappropriate representation of the city. Suddenly, the wording of one highway sign became the center of an acrimonious public debate over class, race, gender and the meaning of heritage in a postindustrial city.
“Welcome to Baltimore” brings together the fields of public history, working-class studies, urban studies and American studies through an interdisciplinary analysis of heritage tourism in Baltimore utilizing archival research, ethnography and oral history. Heritage tourism, or the use of the past for tourist purposes, has become an increasingly central aspect of contemporary urban planning, especially for cities that have lost their industrial and manufacturing bases since the 1970s. When history becomes heritage, it often means the replacement of complicated stories about the past for simpler narratives of progress and national greatness. Baltimore, with its northern economy and southern culture, has become a model of heritage tourism for cities across the country. Both exceptional and exemplary, Baltimore exists at the nexus of region, race, class and culture.
|List Affiliations:||Former List Editor for H-Amstdy
Reviewer for H-1960s
Reviewer for H-PCAACA
Who Was Aunt Jemima?
|Interests:||American History / Studies
Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies
Labor History / Studies
Urban History / Studies
Women, Gender, and Sexuality