When The A.V. Club originally considered potential locations from The Wire for Pop Pilgrims, we had more options than we could handle, hence the two-part episode devoted to one of our favorite shows. One of the first ideas we had for a location was the detail office—the shabby building used by Lt. Daniels and his crew after season one—but location scout Eric Bannat informed us the building was only used for exteriors. (We still visited it anyway.)
Another one of our early location ideas was Hamsterdam—the legal drug zone created by Major “Bunny” Colvin in season three. (The name came from a neighborhood resident mishearing the police referencing Amsterdam.) We’d heard that most of the buildings had been torn down, but it turns out they all had been. What’s left is a couple blocks’ worth of empty lots and a fire hydrant.
Plenty of locations from The Wire remain, though, and many are in close proximity to each other. As Bannat mentioned in the first of our two Wire episodes, a lot of that came from practicality: They didn’t have a lot of time to shoot, so locations needed to be close to each other. The detail office is about a five-minute walk from the Greek’s diner, and both of those locations are near the port area that occupied The Wire’s second season. We never spent more than a few minutes driving from one location to the next.
At each one, the people were friendly and said nice things about the show, though a couple also mentioned The Wire’s unrelenting bleakness rang a little false. While we missed a squatter in the second floor of Cutty’s gym by minutes, judging by what was left, we also met a guy who was single-handedly making Marlo’s format hangout safe for skaters. Although the plentiful Plexiglass around his cash register may suggest otherwise, Donald Lee from Novak’s says his neighborhood isn’t bad. Like a lot of cities, Baltimore can vary by block. Novak’s corner, at Federal and Chester in the shadow of the cool old American Brewery building, is fine, but a few blocks over may be sketchier, Lee said. As far as we could tell—spoiler ahoy—there were no gun-toting tweens in the store, either. Bad timing, Omar!
If you ever visit locations from The Wire, also check out the extensive, browser-choking tour at the Baltimore site welcometobaltimorehon.com. Also make sure to swing by Fells Point, the location of the police building from Homicide: Life On The Street. There’s a giant plaque out front. Can a statue of David Simon be far behind?