American open-air drug markets?

I find myself interested in American culture if for no other reason than that I’ve consumed a lot of it.

I’m particularly interested in the inner-city. That is, the ‘Baltimore’ painted by the Wire and David Chase’s books. Do open-air drug markets still exist in any of these places? Has it gotten worse over the past few decades or better?

It has been years since I have been to Baltimore, I did not frequent any drug markets open-air or clandestine, and I am not familiar with either The Wire or any works by David Chase.

That being said, writers have been known to exaggerate in order to create a more dramatic story.


I’m from Baltimore and return for visits occasionally. I don’t think that a Hamsterdam-style free zone for drug sales as depicted in season 3 of The Wire has ever actually existed. The open-air markets referred to as “the corners” existed and still exist. That’s how street addicts get their drugs, and curb to car window transactions are how suburban addicts get theirs.

In the small Ohio city where I have lived for the past 15 years, there is an open-air drug market under an overpass just east of the center of town.People get arrested there occasionally, but it continues nonetheless.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in Baltimore, but there is this area:,_Baltimore

A clip from a BBC report-documentary…

Necklaces and drugs - Louis Theroux - Killadelphia - BBC

As you are watching the full documentary, it doesn’t take long to realise, that this relatively small drag dealer (shown in the above clip) is in some sort of alliance with the police.

I do believe that is true. However, one of his pieces – The Corner – is more or less a piece of journalism that’s based upon the authors’s following certain denizens of Baltimore’s ghettoes through their day-to-day life. In trust of his journalistic integrity, I’m inclined to believe that he didn’t embellish anything. After all, he maintained close relationships with many of the people he wrote about and I don’t think that they’d allow that if they were slandered.

The concept of this is very strange to me. It’d almost be like a different world than the one I’ve lived in.