Ed, when you took over here — in ’92 — the idea of Philadelphia had completely derailed. The city was dirty and violent and pretty much left for dead in the wake of Wilson Goode. There was no nightlife. There was no energy. There wasn’t a hell of a lot of hope. We were riding three decades of steep decline. So were a lot of other cities.
You changed that, Ed. If a city is what its residents feel about it, consider what we say about ours, in this sketchy holding pattern we find ourselves in: We’re nervous. The economy sucks, and poverty sucks life out of half our residents. Still: The idea coming into the 21st century — that our downtown is jazzed, that young creative types are showing up, that this great old historical place-cum-prideful oasis of neighborhoods between D.C. and New York is the real deal — you’ve helped us believe that, Ed. You shot into the national press as America’s Mayor by dint of your nonstop sweaty push that Philadelphia really is an idea — the last idea of “Philadelphia” seems to be 200-some years old, from when Thomas Jefferson dipped his pen here — that the rest of the country should come take a look at.
And as you head out of office and onto some commission or into a sports gig, we don’t know, yet, whether our time is past, whether the national urban slide that started circa 1960 is too powerful a riptide pulling us out to sea — but we’re holding on, Ed. We’ve got a measure of hope, because your energy, and wrinkled suits at every Wawa opening, and brotherly love in everyone’s ear at every political gathering have given us all a little more time.