Breaking Away from Broken Windows: Baltimore Neighborhoods and the Nationwide Fight against Crime, Grime, Fear, and Decline

Breaking Away from Broken Windows: Baltimore Neighborhoods and the Nationwide Fight against Crime, Grime, Fear, and Decline

Breaking Away from Broken Windows: Baltimore Neighborhoods and the Nationwide Fight against Crime, Grime, Fear, and Decline

Breaking Away from Broken Windows: Baltimore Neighborhoods and the Nationwide Fight against Crime, Grime, Fear, and Decline

Synopsis

Ralph B. Taylor is professor of criminal justice at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Excerpt

"From coast to coast, law enforcement officials are trying to combat so-called quality of life crimes that erode urban life." (2: B3)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Third and Fourth police districts in Philadelphia share a building, vintage 1960 urban school architecture with long horizontal windows and lots of brick, at Eleventh and Wharton Streets in southeast Philadelphia. I was headed there on a December afternoon in 1997 to talk to District Commander Captain John Fisher about quality of life initiatives in his district, the Fourth.

Visions of old and new Philadelphia slid past me as I drove north on Interstate 95 into South Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, opened in 1790 and closed in 1996, sprawled unused on the right, large gray ships bunched together in storage. It had employed tens of thousands at its peak. Exiting onto South Broad Street and driving north, I passed the new Corestates Spectrum basketball/hockey arena, now the First Union Center, on the right, gleaming far brighter in the December early afternoon sun than the mothballed fleet. Past the Corestates Spectrum is the old Spectrum arena, looking dated with its simple cylindrical shape; then Veterans Stadium, home of the Eagles and Phillies, ramps crisscrossing its sides. Revenue from taxes on blue-collar jobs like those at the old shipyard seem less important to cities these days than their take from the luxury skyboxes at the stadium and arena.

A block or so later, South Philly starts. Houses front Broad Street, then later you pass stores and businesses: nail care, delis, a post office, banks. Cars clog the center turn lane, a tradition in South Philly, and on every block there is at least one car double-parked. Stretching away on the nar-

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