Streetscapes: Liberty Heights & Gwynn Oak #2

Liberty Heights & Gwynn Oak 1952: Baltimore at one time was scattered with movie theaters. The Gwynn Theatre operated from the 1930s-early 1950s. Across the street was the Ambassador Theatre which opened in the 1930s as well. Its last showing reportedly was in 1968. Since then the building has been used for various ventures including a cosmetology school.

Also prominent is the Ben Franklin store. Ben Franklin was a five and dime franchise that some say was the first retail franchise in America. Ironically, the late Sam Walton who started Walmart got his start in retail by owning a Ben Franklin franchise.

This area was also a thriving commercial district. As malls became prominent some neighborhood commercial districts became more economically challenged. But what ultimately changed communities like this was integration. This was not simply because of Blacks moving into neighborhoods but the behind the scene strategies that were initiated to stall the development of progressive Black communities and contain Black business development. It is the plan of the School 18 Project to detail this history in the near future.

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