THE CITY achieved two major milestones yesterday.
The first - the announcement that Philadelphia has earned an A- rating from Standard and Poor's on its general-obligation debt - might be considered in the same category as wonders such as Halley's comet, cicada swarms and blue moons. It's a status that the city hasn't achieved since 1979.
The second milestone came with a ribbon-cutting yesterday by Mayor Nutter of the first leg of the Delaware River Trail for bikers and pedestrians. This first segment runs about a quarter-mile between Spring Garden and Ellen streets, but its story spans years of struggle to get the city to develop a coherent plan for one of its natural resources: the Delaware waterfront.
That waterfront was for too long left in the hands of pay-to-play politicians and their friends, with a history of failed development via backroom political deals that completely cut out the public.
In 2006, on the heels of the casino law that mandated two in Philadelphia, Penn Praxis - with a stamp of approval from then-Mayor John Street and, later, Mayor Nutter - spearheaded a process that engaged citizens in the planning process. The result was a master plan that truly incorporates the hopes and ideas of the people of the city. This trail, which eventually will run from Oregon to Allegheny avenues, is a key part of the overall plan. Funding for this segment came from the William Penn Foundation, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the city.
As you can see from the "before" (above, left) and "after" photos, looking west from Delaware Avenue and Penn Street, the transformation is remarkable. Get down there and see for yourself: it's your trail.