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“DC is Oh So Much Better Than Baltimore” — Oh Really?

12 Written by: | Monday, Aug 05, 2013 10:30am

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Last week, Thrillist published a post enumerating “10 reasons DC is so much better than Baltimore.” It is, as several commenters have pointed out, clearly incorrect; the writer appears to have never ventured beyond the Inner Harbor, and has some funny ideas about what constitutes “good parties.” Without further ado, here is my 10-point rebuttal of things that Baltimore does better than DC:


+ Interesting people. I know that not every DC resident is a sportcoat-wearing, briefcase-carrying, politics-obsessed snooze, but I would estimate that 87 percent of them are. Having one industry (government) dominate a city can result in dull dinner parties and an insular world view. Plus, as John Waters has pointed out, all the cutest boys live in Baltimore!

+ Music. Thrillist actually has the guts (or the stupidity) to claim that DC has a better music scene than Baltimore. Which just makes me feel sorry for them. No surprise, then, that all they have to name drop is Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, and Avril Lavigne’s lead guitarist.  Check out our Music Scene column for an extensive rebuttal.

+ Actually good sports teams. We don’t really even need to argue this one.

+ Weirdness. Yes, I tend to complain when travel writers spend a weekend in Baltimore and proceed to write shallow articles enthusing about our city’s quirk factor. But it is a demonstrable fact that Baltimore is way, way weirder than DC. And, obviously, weird is good.

+ Affordability. People who work in DC live in Baltimore because they can afford a cute rowhouse in a fun neighborhood for the price of a cramped apartment in DC. You don’t ever really hear about the reverse. Wonder why?

+ Inspiration. From Edgar Allan Poe to H.L. Mencken to Nina Simone to David Simon to John Waters (I could go on but I won’t), Baltimore has served as the muse for some of the best art of the past few centuries. DC inspired… The West Wing?

+ Small museums. Yes, DC has the Smithsonian Institute, and it’s amazing. But Baltimore has the Poe House and Great Blacks in Wax and the American Visionary Art Museum and the Museum of Dentistry.

+ The Frank Zappa statue. Maybe not as impressive as a giant marble president, but definitely cooler.

+ Complaints. When you hear DC folks whining, it’s usually about some boring Beltway gossip. Here in Baltimore, we have real problems — murder, corruption, drugs, and plenty of other stuff worthy of complaining about. And many of our problematic areas have given birth to unique attempts at solutions.

+ Lack of snobbery. You know what? DC is just fine. It’s a great place to get Ethiopian food, and to marvel at huge marble buildings, and to see world-class museum shows. It’s great that it’s a mere MARC ride away. We here in Baltimore have no need to be snobbish, or to work really hard to prove our superiority; we just like where we live. So there.

I could’ve gone on longer (DC traffic! Baltimore’s swimming holes!), but even just writing these 10 points made me want to get out and enjoy the city. Sorry, DC — this is one fight you’re not gonna win.

Leave a Reply

  • bill

    Nina Simone? Do you mean Billie Holiday or Mama Cass maybe?

  • Jeff

    Baltimore is great if you like murder, syphylis, and hoodlums on dirtbikes. He fact that you feel compelled to respond to this article is proof if
    Baltimore sucks and is inferior to Pittsburgh. More like Baltiless!

  • Katie

    This is awesome.

  • Jeff White

    +Interesting People
    DC hands down. From the big wigs of every country to the insane homeless ( I’m talking about you tree limb shaking guy on 50) people, DC beats Baltimore hands down

    +Music
    9:30 Club is a better venue than anything Baltimore has now. You want to go back 20 years? Yea, Baltimore leads the pack with Painters Mill and HammerJacks, but both are gone now.

    +Actually good sports teams.
    No argument there. Go Ravens!

    +Weirdness
    I’m guessing you think fat ladies with big hair is weird……… Take a walk around 4th and T st and head towards Florida avenue. Hon’s ain’t got nothing on that.

    +Affordability
    Apples to Apples. But what you save in a couple hundred dollars a month could be a serious risk to your health. ( Crime Index Rate is far worse for Baltimore than DC.)

    +Inspiration
    That could be argued over forever, and inspiration is a personal thing.

    +Small Museums
    Um, ok…..yea, the 3 we have here really top the 20 or so in DC…….

    +Frank Zappa
    I’m guessing you’re a hipster, or maybe you are really 60 years old.

    +Complaints
    That’s something to be proud of…

    +Lack of Snobbery
    Much like the writer of the other article I’m guessing you haven’t ventured out of the harbor yourself. I’ve lived in Baltimore my entire life and have never met more snobby people that upper middle class Marylanders.

    • Shane

      Rams head live is pretty much exactly like 9:30 club.

    • Ryan

      The Ottobar is better than any venue in DC. Although the Black Cat is close, both are better than 9:30 club.

    • Pat

      Music in Baltimore far surpasses D.C. D.C. might have the better venue with the 9:30 Club, but in regards to where the talent comes from, it’s here. Whether it’s Animal Collective, Dan Deacon, Beach House, Future Islands or David fucking Byrne, Bodymore is where it’s at. D.C. draws great acts, Baltimore creates them.

  • Lisa Simeone

    Though I live in Baltimore, I’ve been working in and between Baltimore and Washington for 30 years. And as I’ve been saying for 30 years, it’s no contest: Baltimore is more fun.

    Oh, the self-importance of DC. The vibe on the Metro alone is obnoxious — “I hold the weight of the Western world on my shoulders!”

    This sentiment is also reflected in the hundreds of phone calls I took when I was on the air there, both in radio and TV. You have no idea how incensed people can get over the fact that you’re not specifying the second-hand on the clock when you give a time check. “It’s 10 minutes to 6″ just doesn’t cut it! Or when the almighty finance program is delayed by 5 minutes — not truncated, not edited, not deleted — just delayed. My god, the nastiness.

    Physically, DC is beautiful, no question. And there are, of course, lots of great restaurants (though not French ones — sorry, but Baltimore also has it beat there). The KenCen, the Mall, the museums, all beautiful and bountiful. But Baltimore is also a green-canopy city (one of the most so in the country). Baltimore also has a vibrant arts scene. And Baltimore’s — yes — quirkiness is one of its greatest charms. I love the wacky characters in this city.

    I have found that people in DC are fascinated by Baltimore and eager to come here. When they ask me what it’s like, I always say: “You know John Waters? He didn’t have to make anything up for his movies. They’re like real life. That’s Baltimore.”

    Personally, I think that’s high praise.

    • Mimi

      This DC native, now a happy Baltimorean, could not agree more with Lisa Simeone. (I’m also a fan of Ms. Simeone’s classical programming!)

  • Bawlmer

    Don’t forget, those marble statues were built with Baltimore marble…



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