Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Philadelphia Economics

City Hall to Chestnut Hill
There are lots of ways to go from City Hall to Chestnut Hill, including the train from Suburban Station, or from 11th and Market. This tour imagines your driving your car out the Ben Franklin Parkway to Kelly Drive, and then up the Wissahickon.

Convention Center

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Convention Center

A substantial grant from the Pew Foundation initially funded The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation but expected other more permanent funding sources to materialize by the end of three years. The funding source turned out to be a 1% tax on hotel rooms since hotels were rather easily convinced that an increase of tourism to Philadelphia would benefit them. There is every reason to think the whole idea was a good one, effectively implemented. However, it probably was not completely appreciated that this hotel tax would provide a measurement, a public thermometer, of the ebb and flow of tourists to the city. Thus, the devastating effect of labor troubles at the Convention Center upon the hospitality industry became quite undeniable, hence became potent political medicine in the municipal political campaigns. Tax revenues from this specified source were down, and the causes became hard to deny. Philadelphia has long been a strong union town, but it will be decades before the public forgets the behavior of the carpenter's union or the economic havoc it inflicted on the second largest industry in the region. Even the most committed liberal ideologue would have to admit that the members of the carpenters union would achieve greater personal income by moderating their wage demands and restraining their work rules, working more hours at somewhat lower hourly wages. The argument has long smoldered whether Philadelphia is the most American of American cities, or whether it is the most European of American cities. A case can be made, either way. This labor dispute may not settle the basic question, but it will certainly shift the city's image toward one direction or the other because this matter is not one of architecture, cuisine or speech patterns. It's a matter of the city's belief system.

Originally published: Monday, June 26, 2006; most-recently modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2019