A child born during the last presidential convention in Philadelphia would be eligible for a driver's license now.

Much has changed since the Republican National Convention here in 2000, for the city and politics and activism - and in how we approach policing the collision of all that.

Philadelphia then was freshly burnished, with national media hailing us as a rejuvenated city that walked up to the brink of bankruptcy, pulled back, and was again flourishing - at least in Center City. Then-Mayor Ed Rendell received the credit.

Mayor Kenney may yet receive his own national props for how Philadelphia handled the Democratic National Convention last week.

When the loudest criticism of an event comes from visitors (including the media) whining about their Ubers stuck in stadium traffic above a perfectly comfortable Broad Street Line, you know things went pretty well.

The good news runs deeper for us - Philly doesn't crave the positive affirmation like in 2000.

Go on, tell us we're pretty. Guess what? We already know. Thanks anyway.

The Philadelphia Police, SEPTA Police, state troopers and others deserve a serious slice of the credit.

Their work last week stands in stark contrast to 2000, when thousands of protesters also took to the streets and met a much more forceful approach.

Then, cops arrested more than 400 people - not all of them protesters.

Some spent the night or longer in jail. Most were charged in criminal cases that could not stand up to scrutiny in court.

At one point, bike messengers in Center City were scooped up with activists because they used the same brand of Nextel cellphones, known for a walkie-talkie function.

Philadelphia, in this way, stepped into a national spotlight and then face-planted for all to see.

Technology mattered again last week. Social media changed the landscape. Everyone with a smartphone is now a photographer and videographer holding a virtual bullhorn that can be used to summon an extraordinary amount of people.

The police used the same tools, not to incarcerate but to communicate. That can go a long way in defusing tensions.

With about 13,000 people at 60 different protests in a week, 106 received $50 citations for disorderly conduct and were quickly released - about half of them on the first day of the DNC for climbing the tall metal fences erected to keep protesters away from the Wells Fargo Center, where the convention was held.

And 11 more protesters were arrested and charged by federal officials Tuesday and Wednesday for climbing fences.

Compared with 2000, the police were restrained and the city's image didn't take a hit.

That didn't happen by accident. It grew from experience.

If the visit by Pope Francis last year was a practice run for hosting this convention, then Occupy Philadelphia, a weeks-long protest next to City Hall in 2011, was practice for last week's protests.

That experience wasn't perfect. The city in April agreed to pay $200,000 to settle a lawsuit with 25 people who said their rights were violated during Occupy arrests.

The DNC was not a perfect event. There is still room to learn and grow.

But we've come a long way since 2000.

We looked good last week. And we know it.

brennac@phillynews.com

215-854-5973

@ByChrisBrennan