Baltimore: The Block
For a century, a small stretch of East Baltimore Street has been the city's adult entertainment center, eventually reduced to a strip known as "the Block." Once it was a neighborhood filled with extravagant burlesque shows, the most renowned starring the woman who was both Huey Long's consort and Diane Arbus' muse, Blaze Starr (pictured). Eventually seedier strip clubs and sex shops replaced the theaters, Starr retired to become a gemologist, and drugs and prostitution moved in. The increase in vice and other crimes was barely contained by police, headquartered down the street. A five-alarm fire ravaged the Block in late 2010; fire officials blame arson.