The Block, Baltimore

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The Block
The Block, Baltimore.jpg
400 block of East Baltimore Street.
LocationBaltimore, Maryland, United States
Coordinates39°17′23″N 76°36′33″W / 39.28978°N 76.60922°W / 39.28978; -76.60922Coordinates: 39°17′23″N 76°36′33″W / 39.28978°N 76.60922°W / 39.28978; -76.60922
The Block.JPG

Baltimore's The Block is a stretch on the 400 block of East Baltimore Street in Baltimore, Maryland containing several strip clubs, sex shops, and other adult entertainment merchants. In the first half of the 20th century, it was famous for its burlesque houses. It was a noted starting point and stop-over for many noted burlesque dancers, including the likes of Blaze Starr.

By the 1950s, the clubs became seedier, as burlesque was replaced by strip clubs and sex shops.[1] The Block of that era is featured prominently in several films, notably Barry Levinson's Liberty Heights and Diner, as well as Steve Yeager's independent feature drama On The Block, with Howard Rollins.[2]

The decades to follow would bring a marked increase in general crime, prostitution, and drug dealing, an unusual situation considering the location of Baltimore's Police Headquarters and Central Police District House at the east end of the block. It has been suggested that the police, whose headquarters are located literally next to The Block, choose to contain the prostitution and drug dealing in that small section of Baltimore rather than combat it.

The passing decades would see a shrinking of the area. Once several blocks long, stretching almost to Charles Street in the central part of downtown Baltimore, today The Block only stretches about two blocks long from South Street to Gay Street.

Polock Johnny's sausage restaurant was a local landmark on the strip into the 1980s.

In recent years, The Block has undergone a bit of a revival with the opening of Larry Flynt's Hustler Club, and its next-door neighbor Norma Jean's, an upscale urban strip club.

A five alarm fire on December 6, 2010 heavily damaged four buildings, including the building that formerly housed the Gayety Theater. The fire was believed to be an act of arson.[3]


  1. ^ Hanscom, Greg. "Bump and Grind | Culture | Urbanite Baltimore Magazine". Archived from the original on 2012-09-14. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  2. ^ Schoettler, Carl. "Articles about Steve Yeager - Baltimore Sun". Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  3. ^ Baltimore Sun 12/6/2010,0,1707376.story?page=1