Crews have started demolishing a derelict block as Baltimore tries to reduce its sea of boarded-up properties.
Mayor Catherine Pugh says her administration is committed to eliminating abandoned houses to "pave the way for new investment and long-awaited revitalization." She got in an excavator Wednesday to start the demolition in a blighted swath of West Baltimore.
Maryland's biggest city is hardly alone in dealing with issues of urban decay. But Baltimore's many vacant lots and roughly 16,000 uninhabitable row homes with weeds growing out of boarded-up windows have proven especially intractable in poor and racially segregated areas.
Baltimore has about the same population today as it did 100 years ago.
Housing researchers say some 20,000 other city properties are unoccupied and pose a risk of becoming shells.