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Philly in lights


THE BALL club is in the cellar, stars unloaded. Its most recent publicity was for cops beating a guy on the ground. A dock restaurant fell into the river. A neighborhood is actually sinking.

Philadelphia is on display when the nation's eyes are on a political convention so scripted, devoid of happening and under control that those eyes will inevitably stray to the periphery.

They will see a burgeoning downtown, tremendous investment in arts facilities, convention center, bubbling new restaurant and nightlife around the 18th-century tourist sites. This is Mayor John Street's town, full of optimism and vitality.

Beyond the glare is the dark side, the slums, crime and drugs, community distrust, school system disruptions, municipal labor unrest and other ills of urban America just a cab ride away.

Philadelphia, to a lot of people, is Baltimore writ large. And so Baltimoreans can only wish it well during this week in the spotlight, cheer, hope it shows to best advantage and nothing goes wrong.

The Republicans will soon go back where they came from, but the city endures. It's a great place and always was. The Republicans are to be congratulated for putting Philly's latest renaissance on display.

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