Mayor on line to buy iPhone

Street waited in the rain for the hottest new gadget

Mayor John Street waits in line for the chance to buy the new iPhone.

Philadelphia mayor John F. Street waited patiently along Ranstead St. at 16th St. in Center City to be third in line to purchase an iPhone from the AT&T on Friday, June 29, 2007.  It was raining much of the day and the mayor stayed dry in his Gore-tex rainsuit.  (Slide Show)

Just after 6 p.m., Street achieved his goal: He bought the third iPhone the store sold. He sloooowly unwrapped the iPhone, taking his time over the cellophane and the box inside, before getting to the phone itself. Then he compared the phone to his current cell phone -- though he couldn't try out the Web access. That has to be activated from home, store workers said.

Gadgetophile Street's presence in line had become a media scrum (though he did who took a few breaks from the line for events today, filling in with two representatives that Street said was his security detail.) He took some criticism for his priority-setting -- including from one woman who actually yelled at him.


But Street defended his love of technology as important to the city. He could use his new iPhone, for example, on the city’s Wireless Philadelphia network, which he backed as mayor. “I think the city has benefited mightily from my interest in technology,” he said.


But he also defended his wait as an illustration of how much work has changed, saying he was getting as much done in line – thanks to his Blackberry, but also to a number of staffers fluttering back and forth – as he does in City Hall.


“There’s a fundamental misunderstanding on how work is done these days,” said Street. “I am on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some people in the normal workforce don’t understand that. …


“People should be educated. To suggest that the mayor, or other people, are not working because they aren’t in City Hall is ludicrous.”


-- Kate Mays and Christine Olley

View the slideshow.