Wednesday 30 Jul 2014

The Wire: A Streetview Tour


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Shot on location during its five-year run on HBO, Baltimore was more than a backdrop and setting for The Wire. From its corners to its classrooms to the corridors of power, the city was the prism through which issues and themes were refracted.

Here follows some of The Wire‘s more iconic locations.


THE PIT


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One of the major venues for the Barksdale crew were the Pit and the Tower, based on the McCollough Homes on the west side and other similar projects such as the Poe Homes and Lexington Terrace. Nearly all of Baltimore’s high-rise housing projects were demolished years ago.

HAMSTERDAM


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Baltimore never actually had “free zones” with open drug markets, as envisioned by Bunny Colvin. The filming location used for the first and largest of the free zones — known as Hamsterdam — was near Broadway and Gay streets. The homes in this area have been demolished and the blocks are now open space. This stretch of Lexington Avenue runs through what was supposedly Hamsterdam.

COLLINGTON SQUARE


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This eastside park, with a commanding view overlooking the Johns Hopkins medical center and the waterfront in the distance, was the location of several meetings during the course of The Wire. The eastside-westside basketball game was played on the court here.

LITTLE JOHNNIE’S


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The dockside S. Clinton Street restaurant where Vonda and the Greek hung out. Marlo met them here a couple of times as well. Interestingly, the location of the Major Crimes Unit building is just down the street.

CITY HALL


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Baltimore’s City Hall and War Memorial Plaza were a backdrop in several episodes. Facing the place, to your back, is the courthouse where Proposition Joe and Stringer Bell met in the rain — the same courthouse steps featured in Barry Levinson’s “…And Justice for All.”

ORLANDO’S


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Orlando’s strip club on South Broadway was the base of operations for Avon Barksdale’s crew during the first seasons of The Wire, until ambition got the better of Orlando. As it was during filming, the location is actually a strip club — the Ritz Cabaret. Stringer Bell’s copy shop is just a few doors down at 510 S. Broadway.

MAJOR CRIMES UNIT


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From this small dockside building on a desolate stretch of South Clinton street, Lt. Daniels, Lester Freamon and other members of the major crimes unit played a never-ending game of cat and mouse with violent drug gangs, mobsters and corrupt public officials.

POLICE HEADQUARTERS


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This quintessential Bauhaus building designed by Mies van der Rohe, used as the location for the Baltimore City police headquarters, was part of the original Charles Center redevelopment project in the early 1960s. A news ticker runs along the building across Baltimore Street.

MARLO’S COURT


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The ambitious and ruthless Marlo Stanfield met in this secluded park near Chase and Bond Streets. Herc lost a surveillance camera here as well.

LANVALE & BARCLAY


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Several locations were used as drug corners during the filming of The Wire. The intersection of Lanvale and Barclay was Bodie’s spot during the fourth season.

THE RIM SOURCE


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At the intersection of North and Gay, the Rim Source, with its windows distinctively outlined with blue neon lights, was one of Marlo’s meeting spots.

JOHN’S RADIO & TV


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Proposition Joe ran a repair shop at 301 S. Highland in Highlandtown, most recently a jewelry repair shop but presently vacant.

About the author

WTBH founder and editor Bruce Goldfarb has written for Baltimore magazine, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and numerous other publications. He has also done eight books that you've never read.

25 Comments

  1. Corey says:

    Great post!

    Another good spot is Western District Headquarters. The outdoor shots were shot behind St. Brigid’s in Canton. To get a good view of the building check out 923 S. Robinson St.

    Reply
  2. Mary (Moscato) Chaikin says:

    My father was “John Moscato” of John’s Radio & TV” in Highlandtown. If they ever take down the blue awning, you will still see the original tv shop sign – “John’s Radio & TV”. We lived behind the TV shop. It was very nostalgic to see this picture from The Wire. My father had the very first television in the city of Baltimore in 1945. Buses would stop and people would get off the see the “new invention”. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
  3. Liam says:

    Ignoring Pearson Florists’s, huh?

    Reply
  4. Wayne Dent says:

    Great post. I love getting a sense of the history behind places and Baltimore is one of the great cities in the United States for rich historical factoids.

    Reply
  5. Bob says:

    According the the city paper wire tour, http://www2.citypaper.com/special/story.asp?id=11846, Hamsterdam is not in W. Baltimore but filmed here: Behind the Great Blacks in Wax Museum at 1603 E. North Ave, there are also a few other landmarks not in here like bubble’s spot in the back alley garage, the old brewery, the middle school and the famous murderland alley shot.

    Reply
  6. BmoreBedell says:

    Nice post I had been wondering where a lot of these spots were! Thanks for putting it up.

    Reply
  7. Ebony says:

    I’d love to know where they filmed all the docks scenes in series two

    Reply
  8. Derek says:

    Love the post! I loved the show and love Baltimore even with its problems.

    Ebony,
    Lots of season 2 was filmed in south baltimore/locus point. The bar that all the dock workers went to was at the southeast corner of E Clement St and Jackson street. It was called the Clement Street Cafe. My parents used to live on harvey street right behind it and I would come home sometimes and see the film crew out front of the bar. If you stand in the middle of the intersection you’ll see the Domino’s sugar sign at the end of the street. They had several shots in the show with that angle. Around 2003 they converted the bar into a couple condo units.

    old clement street cafe- http://maps.google.com/maps?q=636+harvey+st+21230&hl=en&ll=39.274042,-76.60518&spn=0.001719,0.003363&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=56.856075,110.214844&vpsrc=6&hnear=636+Harvey+St,+Baltimore,+Maryland+21230&t=m&z=19&layer=c&cbll=39.274034,-76.605342&panoid=IcoUwHRsyEhWq8DUZqUraw&cbp=12,145.46,,0,0.5

    The grain terminal they make reference to several times in the show was kind of based on reality. There used to be an old grain pier to the old ADM grain facility in Locus Point. The pier collapsed into the water around 1999 and ADM didn’t want to pay to get it fixed. The facility closed shortly afterward. The last episode has one of the young polish guy (cousin?) looking out at the ADM grain facility (big ugly concrete silos). That was shot off of Fort Avenue right as you’re about to get on the bridge over the rail lines to Ft Mchenry.

    The below street shot is present day close to where it was shot. The grain facility was converted into high end apartments and the fence where the scene was shot are now big row houses (eluded to in the last episode of season 2).
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=636+harvey+st+21230&hl=en&ll=39.267007,-76.587989&spn=0.006878,0.013454&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=56.856075,110.214844&vpsrc=6&hnear=636+Harvey+St,+Baltimore,+Maryland+21230&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=39.266935,-76.587845&panoid=50jF_oEWhI8GrwbfkDjFPw&cbp=12,342.17,,0,-0.07

    The place where Sobotka meets the greeks for the last time was under the Key bridge (I-695) in baltimore county. The place where his body washes ashore is the Port Covington dock facility ( I think) in Locus Point. The rest of the dock scenes were probably done at the Dundalk facilities.

    Some other South baltimore moments were when Stringer Bell and Bodie meet in season 3 to talk face to face about hamsterdam. That was the museum of Industry off of Key highway.

    One episode, I forget which episode, when mcnulty gets drunk hears a car alarm go off, stumbles out of the car and falls down a hill, That’s actually Federal Hill. They briefly show the car and people running away on Covington Street right by the American Visionary Art museum. The building in the background was abandond at the time but now is a part of the museum.

    Reply
  9. João Papa says:

    I am going to Baltimore as part of my car trip trough USA, and I gotta ask: are those places safe to visit?

    Reply
    • Carol says:

      Safe? I live in Baltimore and was looking up the locations for visitors from out of town. I am not worried about going to any of the locations. As in in urban area, daytime might be safer than after dark.

      Reply
  10. Tyrone says:

    You definitely don’t want to visit 2396 South Clinton Street after sunset! :)

    Reply
  11. Jerome says:

    Tyrone,

    You trippin man! I thought you wanted the whities to come down and visit you :)

    Reply
  12. Nick says:

    I like how you can see a deal going down with the green Taurus in the shot of Lanvale & Barclay.

    Reply
  13. Andy says:

    Brilliant TV series, watch it over and over. Really interesting site, nice work. Regards from UK

    Reply
  14. abs says:

    Are “The Wire” tours still available in Baltimore?

    Reply
  15. Wayne says:

    Hi Bruce,

    You should take a look at some of the locations found on http://digital-tours.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-wire-locations-streetview-tour.html as there are a few that you missed.

    Reply
  16. Rita says:

    The middle school was my old elementary school which was Mildred D. Monroe Elementary on Guilford and Lanvale. That school closed down a while ago and it currently opened as a public charter school. I work for Baltimore city schools so I think I will visit for a tour just to reminisce.

    Reply

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