"My American dream is going down with that house," said homeowner Mark Kuonen.
As Kuonen looked on, brick by brick, city crews began tearing apart a dozen houses. The city condemned the leaning houses on Hegerman Street after some were found to be tilting almost a foot.
"You put a ball in the dining room and it would literally roll down into your living room," said Dolores Washburn.
The city offered little help, leaving residents with a sinking feeling as they discovered insurance wouldn't help them either.
Seventy years ago, Hegerman Street was built on an old creek bed. They filled it in with 21 feet of ash. The city said the ash was eroding away and insisted that was what was causing the homes to sink.
People complained that Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell found time this week to unveil his very own hoagie, the Rendelli, but he didn't have time for the homeowners on Hegerman.
Then came Mark Kuone's three-year-old home video showing the roadbed flooded and houses being shored up during sewer construction.
Embarrassed by the hoagie and certainly feeling the heat, the mayor relented on Thursday afternoon. The city accepted responsibility and offered full compensation.
"We hope to have checks in the hands of the residents within a
10-day period," Rendell said.
Kuonen says it goes to show you can fight city hall, "if you've got a videotape."
Hegerman is still a street of broken houses, but it is no longer a street of broken dreams.
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