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Taking Amtrak, going through Baltimore, reminded that Baltimore used to be the big city and Washington was the small town. My mother worked for the government in the 1970s-80s and had a friend, Pat Smith, who’d moved to DC during WW2 when they were filling up all the government agencies. Pat told my mom that, way back then, they’d go up to Baltimore to shop, because in Baltimore the stores had the newest dresses. I guess Woodies didn’t cut it.

Thurgood Marshall was from Baltimore, as I was reminded as we went by the stop for the Thurgood Marshall Airport (formerly BWI, formerly Friendship). Brett Kavanaugh was from the DC suburbs. Times have changed, what it takes to be a big city, what it takes to be a federal judge.


  1. trobble says:

    Was it a dig at Brett Kavanaugh? How much do we know about what the rest of the federal judges were doing when they were 15?

  2. Thanatos Savehn says:

    The play’s the thing. Uncertainty is the Conductor.

  3. zbicyclist says:

    I note that Roger Taney, who shows up on some “worst Supreme Court justices” list (e.g. ), and who authored the Dred Scott decision (often regarded as the worst Supreme Court decision) was from this same area: Calvert County (east of the DC-Baltimore axis) and Frederick County (west of the DC-Baltimore axis).

    In “researching” the paragraph above — I checked Wikipedia — I discovered that Taney had previously been the first Cabinet nominee to be rejected by the Senate (for Secretary of the Treasury). Taney was a Jackson loyalist. Jackson then nominated him for the Supreme Court — he was rejected yet again by the Senate. But after the 1834 election, the Senate went Democratic and Taney was renominated and confirmed.

  4. Kyle C says:

    Interestingly they now have almost identical populations within the city limits. And Baltimore has the huge port so it “feels like a real city.” As you suggest, it’s the size and vigor of the DC suburbs that make DC “bigger.”

  5. Kyle C says:

    By a further coincidence, Portland, OR, now has almost that exact same population and feels “bigger” than the other two, mostly because of the density within the city limits.

    • Dalton says:

      I think the lack of major sports franchises makes Portland feel smaller. Interestingly when you sort by population density of major US cities, Portland is actually not that dense. Portland although 26th by population it is much lower in density (a little under 5,000 per sq. mile) both Baltimore (7,500 per) and Washington (11,000 per) are much higher.

      Pretty sure there aren’t any Supreme Court justices in the vicinity though. But at least we’ve got Tonya Harding.

      • Jackson says:

        Are the Trail Blazers not in the NBA?

        • Dalton says:

          They are. We also have the Timbers in the MLS. But consider other cites of a similar size that are similarly regionally dominate/isolated (summarized by media market or metropolitan statistical area) and their franchises. Seattle has MLB, NFL, MLS, and used to have an NBA franchise before getting suckered out of it, and will be getting an NHL team. Denver has MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLS.

          Baltimore and Washington each have a NFL team and a MLB team. Washington also has the NBA, the NHL, and MLS.

          The NBA is the easy one. Hell Salt Late City (population 200,000 or so) and Oklahoma City each have an NBA team!

      • Kyle C says:

        Dalton: Interesting stats! I guess I mean commercial (daytime) density rather than residential density. Portland has block after block after block of tall buildings close together in walkable spaces, which you don’t get at all in DC because of the height restrictions, and you don’t see to the same extent in Baltimore. Apparently there are fewer houses in Portland.

  6. Alex says:

    Off topic, but interesting article:

    So this epidemiology study didn’t find much of an effect on cancer risk from eating organic food unless you’re an affluent, postmenopausal French woman. Do I sense forking?

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