Although all 27 tons of him stands atop City Hall, William Penn isn't exactly a strong presence in the city he founded.
Compared to Benjamin Franklin, he's practically anonymous,
so it's rare for someone to offer a modern tribute to the man who founded
But an essay that came over my email transom the other week that did just that.
The author was Michael Sklaroff, a local lawyer and bon vivant whose specialty is in zoning law. I've known Sklaroff since I covered him during his days as chair of the Philadelphia Historical Commission. He's a bright, sharp guy, though I wouldn't call him a Little Mary Sunshine.
So, it was a surprise when I read the title of his piece: "The Blessings of Philadelphia."
I thought he was being sardonic. He wasn't.
Sklaroff isn't blind to the city's problems: the grinding poverty, the population loss, the continued decline in jobs, the sad state of the public schools, high taxes, high crime...the list could go on.
But, the city has one clear advantage: its location.
As Sklaroff put it: "William Penn chose wisely the site of his greene country town, well above the malarial swamps of the tidewater. In a world of rising sea levels and increasing frequency of megastorms hatched in the
It's a point well taken. While politicians may debate the reality of global climate change, scientists do not. We may be looking at a future of rising sea levels, extreme weather and hurricanes and tropical storms increasing in frequency and intensity.
Now, the leaders of
When 100-year floods happen every five years and "The Storm of the Century" happens every decade, no amount of money can undo the forces of nature. Human beings who love and work along coastal areas may have to stage a retreat.
Like most great cities,
Neither Sklaroff nor I think
But, in an era of climate change and unprecedented storm events, new rules will apply. The city will have a competitive advantage -- thanks to
-- Tom Ferrick