“Maryland has been called a ‘confederacy of two shores,’” said Guth, an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Kansas. “In many ways, the story of the Bay Bridge is Maryland’s story."
“More than that, the struggles chronicled in this book mirror the challenges that faced our nation,” Guth said. “This is an American story.”
While much of the book’s focus is on the Eastern Shore – Western Shore rivalry, Bridging the Chesapeake also examines the sometimes rough-and-tumble world of Maryland politics. With the advent of the automobile in the early 20th century, a variety of competing interests emerged, each with its own vision of how best to move cars and people across Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore and Washington merchants were also concerned that they were losing access to the Eastern Shore’s agricultural and seafood bounty to nearby Philadelphia. The book also focuses on the rivalry and vision of two former Maryland governors, William Preston Lane, Jr. and Theodore Roosevelt McKeldin.
“The Lane-McKeldin rivalry helped define Maryland in the years after the Second World War,” Guth said. “Although they were very different men, both had a vision and passion for the state and its people.”
For much of its history, population growth on the Eastern Shore lagged behind the rest of the Maryland. For example, in the first half of the 20th century, the population of the Eastern Shore's nine counties grew 107 percent, half the growth rate for the rest of the state. However, since the 1980 census - the first taken after the completion of the parallel bridge in 1973, the Eastern Shore population has increased nearly 175 percent, compared to 133 percent for the rest of the state.
"The Bay Bridge really changed the population dynamic of Maryland," said Guth. "In the process, for better and worse, it changed the basic nature of the Eastern Shore."
Guth, born in Baltimore but reared on the Eastern Shore, is a graduate of Easton High School and the University of Maryland. He also earned a masters degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina. After a career in broadcast journalism and public relations, Guth joined the faculty of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Kansas, in 1991.
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