About 40 Quadrangle residents, most of them freshmen, packed a faculty apartment in the McKean dormitory Tuesday night for an informal talk with long-time City Council member Thacher Longstreth. Longstreth told colorful anecdotes about how Philadelphia has changed during his 70 years, weaving a rags-to-riches tale out of his childhood experiences. He also discussed Philadelphias financial crisis and gave students his version of how the citys problems came about. Longstreth's relaxed, upbeat speech was well-received, and many students stayed after he had finished to continue talking with the council member. Classical Studies Professor Matthew Santirocco, the senior faculty resident of Butcher, Speakman, and Class of '28 dormitories in the Quad, organized the dessert-coffee hour to give students a chance to meet what he called "one of the most prominent, distinguished, and colorful public servants in the city." Longstreth lived up to that "colorful" image with stories about collecting Japanese beetles during the Depression to make extra money, and shoveling manure to earn enough to attend The Haverford School. After his stories about life in Philadelphia, the 12-year council member turned the discussion to the citys current woes. He said that Philadelphia has taken on "a whole series of social problems which certainly weren't ours to take," and offered students hope that the city will recover, citing a "boom-bust" philosophy that cities move in a cyclical fashion and "always come out of it." The council member said that Philadelphia should work to improve its educational system, saying that the city has "a much larger number of people who need help and a much smaller number of people who can help them and pay the taxes." But on a positive note, he said that plans for the new city Convention Center will create jobs, and the increasing privatization of services that the government once handled inefficiently will help the city. College and Wharton senior Steve Collins said that he thought Longstreth "was an extremely interesting man with a lot of insight into the city's current problems."Comments powered by Disqus
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