Thacher Longstreth

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W. Thacher Longstreth
Member of the Philadelphia City Council from the At-Large District
In office
January 2, 1984 – April 11, 2003
Preceded byBeatrice Chernock
Succeeded byJack Kelly
In office
January 1, 1968 – January 3, 1972
Preceded byVirginia Knauer
Succeeded byBeatrice Chernock
Personal details
Born(1920-01-01)January 1, 1920
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedApril 11, 2003(2003-04-11) (aged 83)
Naples, Florida, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Anne Nancy Claghorn (m. 1941)
Alma materPrinceton University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1942-1946
RankU.S. Navy O-4 infobox.svg Lieutenant Commander
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsBronze Star Medal (Two)[1]

William Thacher Longstreth (January 1, 1920 – April 11, 2003) was a Republican member of the Philadelphia City Council who was perhaps best known for his long tenure and unique image as a wisecracking, bow tied blue blood.[2][3]

Longstreth, a graduate of Princeton University, was an eighth-generation Philadelphian born to Quakers William Collins (b. 1882) and Nella (née Thacher) Longstreth, who married in 1917. William C. Longstreth owned the Longstreth Motor Car Company and his family lived in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and was affluent until the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Thacher was a cousin of President Herbert Hoover[citation needed] and his maternal grandmother, Ella Hoover Thacher was the president of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union for many years. In 1970, he led the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and spearheaded the drive to hold the annual Earth Day commemoration in Philadelphia. That event became one of the biggest Earth Day events in the nation. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He was predeceased by his half sister, Nella Cameron Downward (1913-1997). His younger brother, Frank Hoover Longstreth (b. 1922) died in 2008.

He was a two-time Republican nominee for Mayor of Philadelphia, first in 1955, losing to Richardson Dilworth, and again in 1971, losing to Frank Rizzo.

He was initially elected to Philadelphia's City Council in 1967, resigning his seat to run for Mayor in 1971. While a member of City Council, he served as a sideline reporter on Philadelphia Eagles radio broadcasts on WIP in 1969 and 1970.[citation needed] Longstreth was again elected to Council in 1983, defeating incumbent councilwoman Beatrice Chernock for the at-large seat he had vacated twelve years earlier to run for Mayor.[4] He would remain in office until his death. During his tenure on Council, Longstreth helped support the efforts of Edmund Bacon to bring an urban renaissance to Philadelphia. He was also well known for wearing bow ties and argyle socks.

He suffered from Parkinson's disease,[5] and died of a pulmonary embolism while on vacation in Naples, Florida.[6]


  1. ^ "Resolution No. 030269" (PDF). Council of Philadelphia, Office of the Chief Clerk. City of Philadelphia. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  2. ^ "Thacher Longstreth: The Icon in Winter". Philadelphia Magazine. Metro Corp. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  3. ^ "W. Thacher Longstreth, 82, Philadelphia Councilman, Is Dead". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. 12 April 2003. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Chernock Loses Council Seat to Longstreth". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 9, 1983. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  5. ^ Twyman, Anthony S. (March 13, 2003). "Longstreth abused, nurses say". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  6. ^ "W. Thacher Longstreth, 82, 6-Term Philadelphia Councilman". The New York Times. April 12, 2003. Retrieved February 7, 2012.

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