In defense of Philly: Columnist got it all wrong
I’m writing to respond to Chris Freind’s opinion column, “Why Philly Will Always Be a Second-Class City.”
I don’t know Mr. Freind and he is entitled to his opinion, but it is based on several erroneous presumptions that I feel obliged to correct.
He begins by talking about the city’s population loss but he fails to note that in the past decade, Philadelphia has experienced a fairly robust population increase, reversing a decades-long trend.
Some people may be leaving the city but far more, including millennials and emptynesters, are choosing to live in it.
Second, he lists certain problems that he sees with Philadelphia.
Although it is true that Philadelphia, like almost every big city in America (see Chicago) has problems with crime, homelessness, graffiti, trash, poverty, etc. in his list, he puts forth that Philadelphia has “a dearth of greenspace.” That is simply not true. I don’t know if Mr. Freind is aware, but Fairmount Park is the largest urban park system in America (10 times the size of Central Park in NYC) and the vast majority of the park is stunningly beautiful.
Next, he attacks the former Philadelphia Navy Yard and says, “it sits unused, just another dream floating away while the competition gets it right.”
From this statement, I can only assume that Mr. Freind has not been to the Philadelphia Navy Ship Yard (now called the Philadelphia Naval Business Park) in about 10 years.
If he had visited it, he would have found what the Navy has called the most successful economic turnaround of a military based closed by the BRAC Commission in the nation.
The business center has brand new hotels, beautiful new office buildings, great restaurants, beautifully landscaped lawns, and a thrilling commercial ship yard.
It is a great success story and it befuddles me how Mr. Freind could’ve missed it.
Mr. Freind concludes by saying that the city’s reputation is “one with virtually no promise of a renaissance-like turnaround.” Again, it is befuddling to understand what he bases this on because in the last few years, Philadelphia has been named:
• The only World Heritage City in the U.S.
• The host city for the Pope’s visit
• The host city for the Democratic National Convention.
• The host city for the NFL Draft.
• “The 20 Happiest Cities To Work In Right Now,” Forbes. com.
• “The 19 global cities with the best economic potential,” Business Insider
• “The Top 10 Most Bikeable Downtowns,” Redfin (Center City West is #1)
• “Best Places to Travel in 2017,” Travel + Leisure
• “What’s the Most Beautiful City in America?,” Budget Travel Just to name a few. Again, Philadelphia still has its challenges and they are significant, but it is a city that has experienced significant turnaround and revival in the past 25 years.
It is a great success story, but sometimes people cannot see the forest through the trees.
And Fairmount Park has a lot of trees.