year in review

Philly's Year in Review: Arrivals and Departures in 2021

What and who came and went in Philadelphia this year? It turns out that the second pandemic year brought more change than you might have expected.

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Editor's Note: This is the third story in a three-part series by NBC10 that looks back at the year that was 2021 in the Philadelphia region. Part 1 on "Rewatchable Moments" can be found here. Part 2 on "Big Pivots" can be read here.

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New people and places took Philly by storm in 2021 -- an Eagles football coach and a popular, new music venue named, ironically, the Brooklyn Bowl.

Meanwhile, others came and went: a union leader's longtime reign ended in a federal court conviction and a suburban mall was sold. Then there are those stuck in limbo (will Ben stay or will Ben go?).

Here's a look at some notable arrivals to and departures from the Philly scene this year.

Arrived: Dr. Ala Stanford

Dr. Ala Stanford, the founder of the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, became one of the most prominent faces of Philadelphia's fight to get everyone vaccinated. She also became a voice for healthcare equality in America's poorest big city. In October, Stanford chose to stick to that tough challenge for the long haul when she withdrew her candidacy for city health commissioner

The Black Doctors COVID-19 consortium was recognized earlier this year with Philadelphia's top award for service to the community for the group’s work to help underserved communities of color during the pandemic. Stanford accepted the Magis Award on behalf of the group during the 'Celebration of Freedom' ceremony in July.

Left: a sweater reads "Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium." Right: Dr. Ala Stanford speaks.
Dr. Ala Stanford, founder of Philadelphia's Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium. (NBC10)

Departed: Temple's Greatest Coach

Legendary Temple University men's basketball coach John Chaney died Jan. 29, eight days after his 89th birthday. He led the Owls from 1982 to 2006, going to the NCAA Tournament 17 times, but never managing to reach a Final Four. He finished with 741 career wins at the college level. Prior to Temple, he coached Simon Gratz High School in the Nicetown/Tioga section of North Philadelphia from 1966 to 1972.

Many of his former players over the decades saw him as so much more than a coach.

"Coach Chaney was like a father to me," current Temple men’s basketball coach and former 76ers Aaron McKie said in January. "He taught not just me, but all of his players more than just how to succeed in basketball. He taught us life lessons to make us better individuals off the court. I owe so much to him. He made me the man I am today." 

PHI March 2001- John Chaney
John Chaney, the former Temple basketball coach, was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Arrived: National League MVP Trophy

Thank you, Bryce Harper. The Phillies have not reached the postseason in Harper's three seasons with the club, but it certainly wasn't the star outfielder's fault in 2021. In winning the sport's highest honor this year, he became just the fifth player in history to win the MVP with more than one team.

Departed: Johnny Doc's Reign

The most powerful labor leader in Philadelphia, and one of the most influential politicos in all of Pennsylvania, John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty, was convicted in November on public corruption charges along with a city councilman. A jury found that he bought access to City Hall.

His federal conviction led to a swift downfall for the boss of Philadelphia's International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98. He resigned his various leadership roles in the region's top labor organizations, and is awaiting sentencing in early 2022.

His absence has created a vacuum of power for organized labor in Philadelphia, and at the top of Pennsylvania's Democratic Party, which benefitted for decades from millions in campaign spending by Johnny Doc's powerful Local 98.

Daniela Prizont-Cado
John "Johnny Doc" Dougherty outside his South Philadelphia home a few years ago. (Associated Press file photo)

Arrived: Bagels

The art of the bagel has supposedly been a hole in southeastern Pennsylvania's standard breakfast fare for, well, forever. But that changed in a big way in 2021, mostly thanks to national praise heaped on a South Philly takeout joint called Korshak Bagels. Some local bagel shops would argue that you could always find a good bagel in the Philly region. You just had to look for it.

Tim Karamis, owner of Everything Bagel Cafe in Montgomery County, making bagels during a visit from NBC10's Philly Live in August 2021.

Departed: A Suburban Mall's Value

In a sign of the times for in-person retail shopping, the owner of Montgomery Mall in North Wales, saw the property go into foreclosure on nearly $119 million in debt in July. The mall was bought at auction in November by a national retail property owner for $55 million. It marked a steep decline in value: In 2014, the mall was appraised at $195 million.

Montgomery Mall sign
Google Street View
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