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Sometimes Baltimore seems like the city that can’t catch a break

At its best, people picture the eccentric territory of John Waters; at worst, the bleak urban dysfunction of The Wire or the harrowing racial unrest unleashed in the wake of Freddie Gray’s 2015 death in police custody. Even the president has added the city to his long list of Twitter targets. So many of Baltimore’s woes stem from long decades of racial and economic segregation, a dynamic borne out within the city’s nightlife. The crescent of white neighborhoods edging the harbor—Federal Hill to Fells Point to Canton—are dominated by frat culture and jumbo TV–filled sports bars where the “Crush,” a saccharine combination of juice, lemon-lime soda and flavored vodka, is ordered not-infrequently. Meanwhile, the city’s African American population drinks in...

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