Sunday, May 08, 2005

Remembering an awful day

Excellent article in the Inquirer today on the 20th anniversary of the MOVE bombing. For those in my generation, who can barely remember it, do not even know what it is, it is a striking reminder of one of the most awful chapters in Philadelphia history.

Thankfully, as with many things, time really does heal many wounds. Who amongst us still associates the Philly government with that? Can anyone imagine the City, in this day and age dropping a bomb on a rowhome, and then purposefully letting it burn? On the top of a house with children known to be inside?

From the article:
When the blaze was out, 61 homes were gone and 11 people, five of them children, were dead inside MOVE headquarters.

The days that followed were a period of sadness and shame unlike any in the city's history, the start of a civic funk that lasted for nearly a decade.

The disaster cost Philadelphia millions of dollars, with the final bill yet to be tallied. And it destroyed the reputation of the city's first African American mayor, W. Wilson Goode, once hailed as the embodiment of racial reconciliation and managerial competence.
The 70's and 80's were dark days for our City. But, I guess I take heart in the fact that I truly do not remember it, at all. Our generation does not recall the bombing, and do not live with that stigma. But, just our generation does not remember that strife, we have grown up, especially over the past 13 years, with the idea that we should and can begin to expect things from Philadelphia Government. Things are not perfect by any means, but the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. The difference between today, and 20 years ago, is simply amazing.

And then, there is this, also from the article:
One of the odder sidelights of the saga is that another historic event took place in Philadelphia on May 13, 1985, an event that had at least as much impact on how the place would evolve in the next 20 years.

At midday, business leaders broke ground in Center City for One Liberty Place, the city's first true skyscraper. The ceremony marked the end of the restrictive gentlemen's agreement that no building could be taller than William Penn's hat on the statue atop City Hall.

This should have been a moment of triumph for Goode, a piece of progress he had helped make happen. But he could not attend. He was busy creating a different sort of legacy for himself and for his city.

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