2016 was a year when more celebrities and influential people died than any other time in recent history. One everyone was lamenting as the worst ever. A highly controversial president was voted into office. A foreign government interfered in the American election process. Brexit. Mass shootings. Natural disasters. Harambe.
Could be worse here though.
The future looks brighter for Philly. Sure, we still had to deal with those other things. President Trump will probably tank the US economy, but I like to think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Following the Pope’s visit in 2015,the city was inducted as the United States first World Heritage City and hosted the Democratic National Convention. Many of the presidential candidates spent a lot of time and money here. Then there’s the Made in America Festival.
These were some significant events and accolades. Couple that with hosting some games in the Copa America Cententario and qualifiers for the womens world cup. We have the NFL draft on the horizon, being held on the Ben Franklin Parkway no less.
In the last ten years, we’ve seen some significant progress. The crime rate has dropped. More young people are moving in and with them a vibrant culture of art, food, attractions and night life. New real estate development. The population is growing.
We’ll never be as large as New York, LA or Chicago but we’re starting to put ourselves in the same conversation. The road to world-class city is still a long one, but at least we’ve taken the first steps. My hope is to someday be a can’t miss destination. One that is on the bucket list of every American and foreign traveler. Not just for history buffs (Not that I have a problem with that. Our history is ultimately the main attraction and one that I’m proud of). I want us to be one of those cities that punches above it’s weight like Boston, D.C. and San Francisco. Right now, we’re barely punching at our own weight. Some might say differently. I would agree except that in my travels within the country the first reaction when I tell people I’m from Philly is surprise that I’m not a criminal or willing to fight people over my sports teams. My overseas experience usually has me grudgingly explaining that its close to New York.
Of course I think there’s plenty to do and see here that’s unique and worth the trip. I love Philly. More so now that I’ve been around the world and have seen the problems that others face. The problem is convincing everyone else. It needs to be more than worth the trip. It needs to be a place that people plan their trips around. I want people to come to Philly and then maybe New York, if they have the time. That starts with not being so hard on ourselves. With wanting to stay and fix our problems instead of leaving and transplanting elsewhere. We need to bring more jobs and diversify our economy so we can update our crumbling infrastructure while not disenfranchising the underprivileged. Roll our sleeves up and work on our school system. When we can do those things, more national and international events will follow. With more spotlights on our city will come more recognition.
We’re closer now than we have been since the 50’s. Let’s lay the tracks so the train can keep rolling.