Bradley Maule, the new co-editor of Hidden City Daily–the hands-down best blog about Philadelphia’s built environment–lived in Portland, Oregon, for three and half years and liked it quite a bit. But the former editor and founder of Philly Skyline–another terrific blog about Philly’s built environment–felt something was missing, so he’s returned to Philly. To introduce himself to Hidden City’s audience, Maule wrote a piece titled “I Like To Be Here When I Can,” in which he explained his decision to return.
Not all the commenters understood Maule’s decision, which led to a little bit of Philly-bashing. Not surprising in a town full of natives who are highly ambivalent about their hometown. Where does that ambivalence come from? Hidden City writer Harry Kyriakodis, who writes Harry K’s Encyclopedia, did a little historical digging and found that it’s a problem of longstanding. He quotes Ben Franklin’s autobiography, specifically a passage about a guy named Sam Mickle, who told Franklin that Philly was a complete dump but refused to leave:
Philadelphia was a sinking place, the people already half-bankrupts, or near being so; all appearances to the contrary, such as new buildings and the rise of rents, being to his certain knowledge fallacious; for they were, in fact, among the things that would soon ruin us. And he gave me such a detail of misfortunes now existing, or that were soon to exist, that he left me half melancholy. … This man continued to live in this decaying place, and to declaim in the same strain, refusing for many years to buy a house there, because all was going to destruction; and at last I had the pleasure of seeing him give five times as much for one as he might have bought it for when he first began his croaking.
Harry K goes deeper into the history in a fascinating explication of boosters vs. croakers–the latter being those who carp about the city instead of sing its praises. We say, Welcome back, Bradley Maule, civic booster. Don’t let the croakers get you down.
• Croakers Vs. Boosters