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.

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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.

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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.