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Mayor, Office of the

[Record group 60-1]
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Agency Function
As the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Philadelphia, the Mayor is responsible for shaping and controlling fiscal policies, initiating legislation, keeping the public advised on the operation of the government, reviewing and planning governmental operations, directing the efforts of the City governmental operations and directing the efforts of the City government toward making the City a better place for its inhabitants.

Agency History
William Penn established the office of Mayor of the City of Philadelphia in 1691 with his initial charter incorporating the City. Although the office was filled and exercised, little is known of the workings of this corporation. In 1701, Penn issued a second charter for Philadelphia and the modern city government recognizes this charter as its beginnings. Until 1776, the Mayor was elected annually from among the City's aldermen by the Recorder, aldermen, and Common Council members who comprised the Corporation's officers. Along with the Recorder and two aldermen, the Mayor sat quarterly upon the City Court (later the Mayor's Court ), held the power to appoint many minor City officials, and often served, unofficially, as the City Treasurer. In conjunction with other Corporation officers, he was empowered to levy highway taxes, to contract with the supervisors of the streets for their repair, with the proper commissioners for cleansing the streets, and with the surveyors to regulate the streets and sewers. The office was abolished with the suspension of the Corporation at the Revolution.

The office of Mayor was reestablished in 1789 with the reincorporation of the City on much the same lines as before, i.e., the Mayor was elected annually by the aldermen from among themselves, was a member of the Common Council, sat upon the Mayor's Court as well as the Aldermen's Court, and appointed all City officials with the exception of the City Treasurer. In 1796, he was removed from the Council and his election from among the aldermen was placed in the hands of the newly-formed Select Council. At the same time, the 1796 amendment gave the Mayor some of his initial executive powers, separating his office from that of the City Councils. In 1826, it was declared that any citizen was eligible to hold the office.

In 1838, the Mayor's Court was abolished and merged with the newly formed Criminal Sessions Court. In 1839, the Mayor was made subject to popular election, however, many of his principal appointive powers were returned to Councils. In fact, many administrative powers were vested not with the Mayor but with standing committees of Councils. The Mayor continued to exercise executive direction over the police forces of the City only.

On 2 February 1854, the Consolidation Act was signed by the governor and went into immediate effect. The consolidation act brought little changes to the Office of the Mayor except that the term of the Mayor was extended to two years and he was granted veto powers over Councils' actions. The Mayor's term of office was extended in 1861 to three years and in 1887 to four years. He was also required to report annually to the Councils upon the financial and general condition of the City. Councils still reserved the power to appoint the heads of City administrative departments.

The Bullitt Bill of 1885, which took effect in 1887, placed in the Mayor's hands the power to appoint those department heads and members of various boards and commissioners (with the approval of Select Council) and to remove them. The City Charter of 1919 effected few changes in the status of the office.

Under the provisions of the Home Rule Charter of 1951, the Mayor has the authority to direct and coordinate the execution of municipal policy, and is responsible for the conduct of the executive, administrative and law enforcement work of the City. The Mayor is empowered to recommend measures to Council, and to approve and disapprove all municipal legislation. He may also call special meetings of Council when required by public necessity. He is given broad fiscal powers, including the development and recommendation of the annual financial programs, preparation of official estimates of revenues, and supervision for expenditure control. As chairman of the Administrative Board, he has the power to pass upon numerous rules pertaining to the operation of the city government.

The Home Rule Charter also created two bodies to assist the Mayor: the Cabinet and the Administrative Board. The Cabinet consists of the four principal assistants to the Mayor: the Managing Director, the Director of Finance, the City Representative, and the City Solicitor. Later mayors have expanded the Cabinet to include the Director of Housing, the Personnel Director, and others. The Administrative Board consists of the Mayor, the Managing Director and the Director of Finance.

Archival Records
60-1.1 Annual Reports (1856, 1858-1864, 1866, 1867, 1869, 1870, 1872-1885, 1887-1923, 1926-1930, 1932-1934, 1936-1938, 1948-1950, 1952-1970/1971, 1984)

60-1.2 Reports and Publications (1864-1994)

60-1.3 Ordinance Records (1919-1934, 1945-1963, 1972-1980)

60-1.4 Marriage Records (1857-1904, 1907-1915, 1921, 1924-1928, 1932-1938)

60-1.5 Apprenticeship Indentures; Apprentice and Redemptioner Indentures (1771-1773, 1800-1806)

60-1.6 Appointments - Warrants; Warrants of Appointment (1800-1806)

60-1.7 Military Service Enrollment Book (1861-1862)

60-1.8 Scrapbooks (May-June 1891; June 1903-April 1907; January - August 1934)

60-1.9 City Charter (1701)

60-1.10 State of the City Messages (1956-1966)

60-1.11 Executive Orders (1952-date)

Current Records

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Last updated on April 24, 2000