Philadelphia cityscape (Thinkstock)

Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley envisions Detroit's future during a walk through Philadelphia's past.

PHILADELPHIA — You get a feel for a city by how it treats its center, its history.


You get a feel for a city by how its people walk and talk and how they treat strangers and each other.

As former journalist and potential future mayor Vincent Thompson and I strode around the Center City — what this historic, 1.6 million-resident East Coast hub calls its core — I got a feel for the sense of pride and ownership.

We walked past the "Clothespin," a large black statue honoring the way we dried clothes at my grandmother's house. We stood in front of Philadelphia's magnificent city hall — a marble and granite wonder at the city's geographic center, visible for mile.


For years, no skyscraper could climb taller than the statue of Philadelphia founder William Penn atop City Hall. Eventually, Comcast, which always finds a way, did — constructing One Liberty Place higher than Penn's hat.

Read Rochelle Riley's entire column at the Detroit Free Press.