A Prayer For The City,
prologue, chapters 1-11, 13, 18 - Al
After the Ed Rendell became Mayor of Philadelphia in 1992, Buzz Bissinger, an acquaintance
of his, asked to write a book on Urban America.
He was allowed unfettered access into the Mayor’s office.
Buzz learned to like Mayor Rendell easily.
He was often (appropriately) described as impulsive.
He disliked the mechanics of national politics, shown in his testimony to the Senate Finance
at the time Rendell took office, it seemed American cities were simply shrinking into nothing.
“What’s happening here is that cities are being destroyed.
We have a war going on within our
We’re going to end up with a
Rendell had a reputation as a budget cutter, who was actually serious about it.
He even cut the
police budget, paid holidays, etc.
“When I look at some of the problems, like the violence, the violence-prone society–when I
look at the problems of increasing lawlessness, the breakdown of family life, some of the things that
have happened to American cities that really municipal government and the mayor and the city
council and business leaders, no matter how properly motivated, can attack, those are where the
real frustrations are.
.. Not everyone realizes it, but it is the case.”
Buzz describes the Mayor in the hospital after the isolated shootings of several police officers.
Part I: No More Money
Chapter 1: Ego and Id
Lincoln Steffans’s oft- cited quote once described Philadelphia as “corrupt and contented.”
David Cohen (Chief of Everything; aid to Mayor Rendell) profile
Graduated from Penn law school.
Executive editor of law review. very successful lawyer.
Former mayor Goode’s only words to the new May Rendell, “Hi, David.
Chapter 2: The Number
The budget deficit over the next five years (from 1992) for the city of Philadelphia if nothing
was done: $1.246 billion.
Biger than the entire budget of Boston, Houston, or Baltimore.
Philadelphia = the “City of Firsts” - first botanical garden, circus, american magazine, americ-
The last of the first occurred in 1938.
By 1938, then really by 1960, the city was crumbling.
“The modern city can be the most ruthless enemy of the good life, or it can be its servant.
choice is up to this generation of Americans.
For this is truly the time of decision for the American
That generation responded.
Between 1960 and 1990, philadelphia lost 400,000 residents;
In 1960, the City planning com-
mission projected that it would gain a minimum of 225,000
“Out beyond the central business district, in the endless miles of built-up neighborhoods that
some of us call the “grey areas,” the rot goes on unchecked.”
- Harvard Professor Raymond Ver-