11.13.2013

Green and Goode

Last week, I attended a City Council hearing on a proposed tax increment financing district for a combined W and Element hotel at 15th and Chestnut Streets downtown.  We had done some work for the developer and were asked to attend but not testify.  I knew from private discussions and public coverage that the hearing was likely to be contentious, and in fact it was.  
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c6/William_J._Green.jpg/220px-William_J._Green.jpg
But my point in bringing this up is not to go over the details of the proposed development or of the hearing; that's been covered fairly well by the local press.  What I did want to note is that two current City Council members brought up the work of their fathers, both former mayors of Philadelphia, in their remarks.  Since much of the hearing related to the role of tourism in the Philadelphia economy, it was nice to hear Councilman Green and Councilman Goode both pay homage to the work of Mayor Green (who served from 1980 to 1983) and Mayor Goode (who served from 1984 to 1991) on that very issue, since that 12-year period coincided with some significant events in Philadelphia tourism history, most notably laying the foundation for the opening of the Pennsylvania Convention Center downtown. 

Especially for us younger folks, we can think that modern Philadelphia history began with Ed Rendell in the early 1990's.  In our minds, Philadelphia was on the brink of bankruptcy, chaos, and irrelevance, and everything that is great about our city today emerged from the Rendell administration, negating any need to worry over the details of the 1980's or before. 

For a place that prides itself on its history, we should know better than to be so short-sighted.  I know I could benefit from knowing more about post-WWII Philadelphia, since it continues to influence modern day matters.  For that reason, I'm thankful our current City Council contains two mayor's sons who are at the ready to remind us all of the relevance of the important work their fathers did not long ago. (Btw, if you're interested in the 10-30 years before the Green and Goode administrations, I commend you to my friend Greg Heller's recently published biography on Ed Bacon.)
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