A bird’s view eye of Baltimore in 1973

21 Photos

Amateur photographer Marshall Janoff took photos of the city from inside the Goodyear Blimp during the City Fair of September 1973.

It was a cloudy day in 1973 when Marshall Janoff, then 30, drove out to a field near BWI airport where the Goodyear Blimp was parked.

“It took off and landed like an airplane,” he said. “I don’t really remember a lot about – it did not go very fast.” It wasn’t too loud, he said, and the motors were a bit like a fan.

As the blimp circled Baltimore’s Inner Harbor over the next few hours, Marshall snapped a series of black and white pictures with his Nikon. His goal was to capture photos of the soon-to-be-redeveloped Inner Harbor on the day of the 4th City Fair, which took place in the area.

Janoff was an amateur photographer. “It was a hobby,” he said. “I had my own darkroom developed my own negatives.” By day he worked with his family’s industrial supply company. But he and his wife were active in political circles; they threw a party for Mayor Schaefer when he ran for Governor. And when the 1973 City Fair rolled around, Janoff volunteered to take the pictures.

The fair was meant to showcase the potential for Baltimore’s redevelopment while the memories of riots were still fresh in people’s psyche. James D. Dilts wrote for The Sun that while European cities had grown up around trade fairs, by contrast, “The Baltimore City Fair grew up inside an existing city and its primary purpose is not to sell goods, but to sell Baltimore.” But Dilts was skeptical of the fair’s longterm viability. “But now, that fair officials have shown that they can attract large numbers of people downtown and not have a riot, where do we go from here?”

Janoff recalled the optimism of the time among his peers that the sense that the city was on the verge of a great transformation. It was an exciting time – watching the city try to recreate itself in its own image.

“Back then, the city was much more industrial,” he said. His overhead shots show factories that have since been razed. Janoff used to sell parts to many of them.

Janoff, now 73, came across the negatives while organizing his house in Baltimore County. “It just brought back a lot of memories.”