|Baltimore, 1939 (LC)|
This study of the Baltimore anti-smoke movement illustrates how Americans altered their approach to environmental regulation during the Progressive Era. After citizen groups came to recognize the limits of common-law regulation, they became enamored with administrative regulation and the promise of rationalized, professional agencies. While Baltimore did mirror the national regulatory trends, the city's unique circumstances limited its capacity to reduce the sooty, black smoke that provoked episodes of public activism. Fearful about the city's economic future, regulators exempted manufacturing from the city's early anti-smoke measures. Furthermore, although railroads were major polluters, they balked at electrifying the bulk of their tracks. Finally, the anti-smoke movement was narrowly based in the northeastern, more affluent parts of the city and failed to expand its support to working-class whites and African Americans. Hence, while the ideas about what constituted appropriate regulation “modernized” in Baltimore, the city did not alter its regulatory practices until the 1930s, long after other cities had done so.