When Ed Rendell, now governor of Pennsylvania, was elected mayor in 1992, he had a hard road ahead to fix the financial and social mess the city was in at the time. The vast problems included numerous unpaid bills, the lowest bond rating of the top 50 largest U.S. cities, and a budget deficit of $250 million. With charm and determination, Rendell somehow attracted investment in the city, stabilized finances, and even produced small budget surpluses.
Revitalization took place in many parts of the city through the 1990s, and in 1993, the new convention center was built. Seventeen new hotels opened between 1998 and 2000 as a result. The city began to work harder to promote its historic sites, festivals, and entertainment, and it worked. Increasing numbers of visitors came to the city and local pride was revitalized in some respects.
Former city council president John F. Street was elected mayor in 1999 and many aspects of the city’s revitalization have continued into the 21st century, although some locals don’t give Street much credit for the momentum created by the Rendell administration. There were accusations of typical Philadelphia-style of scandals in Street’s administration, including awards, insider deals, and poor money management. There has also once again been a rise of violent crime after a decline for a short time in the 1990s. It should be noted, however, that both the decline and increase have matched changes in cities throughout the country.
Many neighborhoods continued to revitalize during Street’s two terms in office and the city saw considerable progress in many areas, while it suffered in other areas. The population of Center City grew from 78,000 to 88,000 during the years 2000–2005, partly due to a condominium boom created by tax breaks. The number of households grew by 24 percent and the overall population decline of the city, while not stopping, is finally slowing, with under a 5 percent drop so far this decade.