The Renewal of Old Ports Around the World
The story begins in the 1950's, when container ships replaced
the traditional types of ocean-going vessels and caused the abandonment
of old ports all over the Globe, leaving an industrial wasteland that
cut the city centers off from their historical birthplace at the harbor.
In cities like Baltimore, Sydney and Rotterdam, the port's
decline was accelerated by the flight of residents and businesses from
the central city, due to the availability of post-war suburban housing
and accessibility on a regional highway system. The economic value of
downtown property went into a radical decline, threatening the central
city with municipal bankruptcy.
However, the abandonment of the old ports also created an
opportunity for those cities to redefine their city centers - utilizing
the central location and symbolic nature of the waterfront to make it
into a place for the people of the city to enjoy and gather to celebrate
their cultures and history. This happened all over the World, including
such cities as Sydney, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Osaka, Belfast, and Capetown,
as well as U.S.cities such as Norfolk, Long Beach, Honolulu, Pittsburgh
and San Diego.
In Baltimore, the business community reacted with a determination
to plan and develop the new uses that would prosper in the new environment.
Private business leaders raised funds to create a Master Plan for the
Central Business District, which was donated to the municipal government
with a recommendation for condemnation, demolition and rebuilding of
the waterfront - at the center of downtown.
The municipal government joined forces with the business groups,
forming one of the first-ever public-private partnerships, and the voters
of the city approved $25 million ($150 million in 2008 dollars) in municipal
bonds for working capital. The first phase of redevelopment, a 22-acre
project known as Charles Center, was launched in 1958.
The first project was more successful than any one anticipated,
and by 1963, Charles Center had three buildings completed and six more
committed - including office buildings, apartments, a hotel and a new
legitimate theatre. A new Mayor took office at that point and elevated
the pace of redevelopment to include the entire 300 acres of downtown
surrounding the historic Inner Harbor.
Four more phases quickly took form, and by 1973 the Inner
Harbor was surrounded with headquarters office buildings. The shoreline
was transformed into a playground of parks and promenades that brought
the people of the city back to enjoy the ethnic festivals and City Fairs
on the waterfront.
Then in 1976, when Tall Ships from all over the World assembled
for the U.S. Bicentennial. Afterward, eight of them sailed to Baltimore
to tie up at the Inner Harbor and hold open house for ten days of celebrations.
The result was to attract hundreds of thousands of people - the raw material
for an international tourist destination.
“Global Harbors: A Waterfront Renaissance” is a 60-minute documentary about an
international phenomenon. It's the story of how the redevelopment of the
Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore transformed an abandoned, blighted waterfront
into a world-renowned cultural and entertainment destination, becoming a
model for other cities across the U.S. and around the World. This riveting
tale is told by journalist turned urban planner Martin Millspaugh and first
person accounts from other community leaders who accomplished what was once
considered nearly impossible.
Global Harbors was shot in high definition in Baltimore Maryland,
Sydney Australia, Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Long Beach California
and Norfolk Virginia. Produced by award winning journalists Cari Stein
and Kim Skeen of Ivy
Media and narrated by native Baltimorean and Hollywood
actor/ film director Charles S. Dutton, Global Harbors:
A Waterfront Renaissance traces the astonishing transformation of a declining, old,
rust-belt city into a waterfront metropolis that inspired the world.
Maryland Public Television partnered in the project with production
support and guidance. Global Harbors is a production of Global Harbors Documentary,
Inc., a non-profit, 501( c)(3) corporation based in Baltimore, MD.
Purchase the DVD
To purchase a DVD of Global Harbors: A Waterfront Renaissance including
nearly one hour of extra bonus material, click
here to go to the MPT
Single copy $19.95, with discounts for quantity orders