That is no small accomplishment in a city many believe incapable of doing quality work or of taking the long view. In fact, Garz said, "What Philadelphia has to start to do now is deal with other issues not just in terms of what's expedient in the short term but . . . "
That's another story.
For now, the Tower is almost done and the scaffolding is almost gone. "It looks good," said Jeffrey Ray, a curator at the city's Atwater Kent Museum.
Ninety feet of scaffolding were peeled away by late last year, 20 more in April, 10 more since then, and city officials say ironworkers are putting in 10-hour days to dismantle the last 30 feet by the end of August.
Although the Tower will probably need a paint job in 20 years, it should require only routine maintenance for the next century, according to Zia A. Khan, the city's chief engineer.
All but about 60 of the Tower's 2,000 new copper- and zinc-coated plates - its outer "skin" - are now in place and covered by three layers of paint and protective coating.
"People call it paint, but it's like describing a kiddie car and a Cadillac. Both are cars but they function in two entirely different ways," said Joe Giordano, vice president of Products Research and Chemical Co. of Gloucester City, N.J., which provided the paint and coating materials.
City Hall Tower is now coated with the same stuff used to fortify aircraft carrier decks, airplanes and the undersides of bridges against harsh weather, rough use, time and pollution.
"They are really durable materials and they'll last a long, long time," said Giordano. "I drive by there, I look up. It looks really nice."
Some say the Tower's new color, called "shipper's gray," came out much lighter than anyone expected. Khan says it was carefully chosen in an attempt to match the Tower's original 19th-century cast-iron plates.
In any event, it's lighter than the most recent color, which - does anyone remember? - was more the "battleship" variety of gray, aged and darkened with crud and grunge.
Below those gleaming new plates, behind those last 30 feet of scaffolding, are the four faces of City Hall's clocks, which were cracked and corroded and, like the plates, in otherwise terrible shape, said William J. Fetters, project manager for Buckley & Co., general contractors for the Tower restoration.
Known collectively as Big George, the clocks cost $30,000 when new and began ticking with the New Year on Jan. 1, 1899. In the last six months, three have been restored; the fourth will be worked on this week.
Their faces have been reglazed, their lights and motors replaced and their gears and movements repaired. All four should be lit up and working by mid- August.
Robert Rodgers of Linglestown, Pa., near Harrisburg, has been working to restore the clocks that, with their 23-foot-wide faces, are more than double the size of those he is used to.
At 32, Rodgers runs a one-man tower-clock restoration business started by his father in the late '40s. Besides City Hall, he has 150 regular tower-clock customers from Maine to South Carolina.
"Will this one keep perfect time? Perfect is a difficult word and this isn't a digital clock," he said. He predicted that the clock mechanisms would be accurate but that wind might blow the hands a minute or two in either direction, requiring twice-yearly adjustments.
Above the clocks, underneath William Penn's feet, work is about to start on the observation deck, to be enclosed in glass panels and screening. The deck, long a popular tourist attraction, and a refurbished visitors' waiting room should be finished by the end of September.
Then comes the restoration of the eight statues on the Tower and six more down on the City Hall apron. "They've been ignored for decades," said Sandy Bressler, executive director of the Philadelphia Art Commission.
There are also plans to repave and landscape the courtyard, relight the Tower and, in late September or early October, celebrate its reopening with a daylong party.
All very upbeat.
Even as the work was being done, however, the public seemed fixated on the scaffolding. It became a lightning rod for complaints about the city, a symbol of everything wrong with Philadelphia.
And city officials were sore about it.
"I would hope people are not so narrow-minded to think that you can fix a tower without the scaffolding up," Mayor Goode said in an interview last week. "I would hope, however, if people viewed it that way that they will now see the removal of the scaffolding as an optimistic sign."
It's a sensitive subject, too, in the general contractor's 28-foot trailer in the City Hall courtyard, where passersby often shout insults and complain about - you guessed it - the scaffolding.
"Everybody seems to have missed the point. This was like the Statue of Liberty being restored and all anybody cared about was the scaffolding," complained Fetters, the Tower's project manager.
So with the scaffolding gone, what fault will Philadelphians find with their City Hall now? How about: The bright, shiny Tower makes the rest of the building look awful.
No problem. Part of the city's long-term plan to renovate all of City Hall is to give it a great big bath. "It will be done," said Peter K. Aborn, deputy public property commissioner.
This is no soap and water deal, though. This is a complicated task that could involve chemicals and steam, take a couple of years and cost up to $5 million and require - oh no - more scaffolding.