Beautify All Things

“That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the most elevating and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the beautiful.”

The above words were spoken by a young man who, in 1831, managed to get himself court martialed and discharged from military service at West Point.

The young man’s name was Edgar Allan Poe.

After his ejection from the Army, Poe proceeded to spend the rest of his life attempting to scrape out a living by devoting himself to the art of writing poetry. Poe’s life was short and consistently riddled with tragedy and hardship. Yet, for an author who was in many ways obsessed with death and the darkest chambers of the human mind, part of Poe’s salvation was clearly his passion for “the contemplation of the beautiful.”

For much of his adult life, Poe lived in Baltimore. Today, Baltimore is one of the most dangerous cities in America. These days, “beauty” is not a word that outsiders would commonly associate with Baltimore, yet there is certainly plenty of it to go around, if only you are willing to look for it.

The photos below document an American city that, despite the enormous social challenges that it faces, has a gritty and thriving artistic community. If Edgar Allan Poe were to return to Baltimore today, he would find a vibrant city full of scenes to facilitate, in his words, “the contemplation of the beautiful.”

370. Baltimore, MD. Baltimore’s endless abandoned properties serve as canvasses for many of the city’s artists.

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371. Baltimore, MD.

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372. Baltimore, MD. Freelance public service announcement.

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373. Baltimore, MD. “Bird nest Balcony” at The American Visionary Art Museum.

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374. Baltimore, MD.

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375. Baltimore, MD.

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376. Baltimore, MD.

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377. Baltimore, MD. Intricate sidewalk murals capture much of the city’s history.

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378. Baltimore, MD.

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379. Baltimore, MD. Edgar Allan Poe, one of Baltimore’s favorite sons.

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380. Baltimore, MD. Words to live by.

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381. Baltimore, MD. Even in the city’s roughest areas, expansive murals capture and celebrate scenes of everyday life.

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382. Baltimore, MD.

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