Dispatch: Most Rendell-ian Moments From Ed Bacon Awards

ed rendell

Photo taken by Hidden City’s Bradley Maule during a recent interview about the Ed Bacon award.

Last night former Philadelphia Mayor, Pennsylvania Governor, Democratic Party Chair and current Eagles color commentator Ed Rendell received the Edmund N. Bacon Prize, which “is bestowed annually on an accomplished figure who has achieved outstanding results in urban planning, development, and design through conviction of vision, effective communication, and commitment to improving their community.”

Rendell, as a tireless advocate of infrastructure investment, is founder of Building America’s Future, which pushes insistently for such spending, along with co-founder Michael Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The award ceremony was at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and hosted by the Philadelphia Center for Architecture and the Better Philadelphia Challenge & Edmund N. Bacon Prize for Urban Planning & Design. Some of the local luminaries/engaged stakeholders present: interior designer Karen Daroff and Karen Daroff’s fur coat; city planner Ariel Ben-Amos; Pennsylvania state political blogger Jon Geeting; urbanist writer and photographer Bradley Maule; Philadelphia Center for Architecture Board President Bob Hsu; Philadelphia Center for Architecture Executive Director John Claypool; Ed Bacon’s daughter, Hilda Bacon; urban planner Greg Heller, author of Ed Bacon: Planning, Politics and the Building of Modern Philadelphia; Diana Lind, executive director and editor in chief of Next City; longtime Philadelphia city planner Craig Schelter, former executive VP of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. and current senior advisor to Econsult; Director of Federal Affairs for Philadelphia Terry Gillen; Jeff Hornstein, director of Financial and Policy Analysis for the Controller’s office… and, well, you get the idea.

Rendell was introduced by his longtime colleague Rina Cutler, who first came to work with Ed (we will call him Ed) in 1993, when he brought her in to head the Philadelphia Parking Authority, a thankless job in those days if ever there was one. Rina’s introduction included the information that Ed “was not always the easiest person to work with” and that, despite their great friendship, they were both stubborn, they both could yell, and they occasionally stopped speaking to one another.

Read more »

Recommended Fall Books: ‘Ed Bacon’ by Gregory L. Heller


It was 49 years ago this week when the late Ed Bacon, Philadelphia’s most (only?) famous city planner graced the cover of Time magazine. Philadelphia was the anchor city for an issue about urban renewal, and Bacon served as the city’s cover boy. But as Gregory L. Heller makes clear in his excellent new book — subtitled “Planning, Politics, and the Building of Modern Philadelphia” — the notion of Bacon as a Robert Moses-styled guiding light who reinvented Society Hill armed only with his tenacity isn’t the whole story. It’s not even a sliver of it.

The mercurial Bacon (now known by a new generation as the father of actor Kevin Bacon) is still referred to as the city’s trailblazing city planner, which — while technically true for 21 years — underestimates Bacon’s real role (and his strength), according to Heller: that of political entrepreneur. In addition to conceiving bold urban designs, Bacon had a keen understanding of how such ideas became reality. In a historic city like Philadelphia, often resistant to change and with an entrenched political machine, this was invaluable.

Read more »

Society Hill Home on Corner of St. Peters Way Listed for Just Under $3M

This four-bedroom, almost 4,000-square-foot house is an absolute beauty bordering an absolutely beautiful street–though St. Peters Way isn’t exactly a typical urban thoroughfare. Named for its connection to St. Peter’s Church, it’s more of a “pedestrian lane,” as Philly-based novelist Ken Kalfus referred to it in a New York Times article about Philadelphia streets.

PlanPhilly’s Ashley Hahn also called attention to it in a piece about Ed Bacon Greenways, which Bacon put in the Society Hill master plan to facilitate pedestrian travel between historic sites.

Read more »