Our Nation’s First World Heritage City
On November 6, 2015, Philadelphia proudly became a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). The City of Philadelphia is the first World Heritage City in the United States. After three years, the Global Philadelphia Association and the City of Philadelphia have succeeded in their effort to make Philadelphia an official member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities.
This prized status recognizes Philadelphia’s unique history and will unlock opportunities for the entire region.
Why we are a World Heritage City
On November 6, 2015, Philadelphia made a compelling case to become a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru at the XIII OWHC World Congress.
Every World Heritage City must have a UNESCO site, recognized for its outstanding, universal value. Independence Hall is the foundation stone of our OWHC membership.
Philadelphia’s iconic Independence Hall was inscribed by the United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization (UNESCO) on its world heritage list.
As UNESCO has stated:
“The Declaration of Independence was adopted and the Constitution of the United States of America framed in this fine early 18th-century building in Philadelphia. These events, which took place respectively in 1776 and 1787, were conceived in a national context, but the universal principles of freedom and democracy set forth in these two documents have had a profound impact on lawmakers and political thinkers around the world. They became the models for similar charters of other nations, and may be considered to have heralded the modern era of government.”
Colonial City founded
on new principles
Philadelphia is a physical manifestation of the principles of freedom and tolerance that were novel in the 17th century and remain critically relevant in the 21st century.
Enlightenment City of Freedom
and Popular Sovereignty
The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution have served as an innovative foundation for governance and model for founders of other nations.
Evolution from industrial
Philadelphia has provided global leadership in giving shape to the post-industrial city by re-imagining the pillars of a 21st century Philadelphia to include learning and culture, education, healthcare, research and life science as well as new forms of manufacturing activity.
City of Re-use
Philadelphia has developed innovative ways to re-use and re-invent its historical and cultural assets to preserve and protect the heritage they represent.
The Philadelphia World Heritage City film is a 28-minute documentary written and narrated by University of Pennsylvania Professor of History of Art, Dr. David Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, and produced and directed by filmmaker Sam Katz. Created to commemorate the historic designation of Philadelphia as the First World Heritage City in the United States, the film offers an exceptional glimpse into the formation and development of Philadelphia, illustrating the city’s leadership role in the fields of art, transportation, urban planning, medicine and more. The film spans centuries, touching upon the formation of some of Philadelphia’s unique neighborhoods and how far Philadelphia has come from the idealistic plan envisioned by William Penn in the 17th century. Now, with a World Heritage City designation by the Organization of World Heritage Cities, Philadelphia should fully embrace its rich heritage as Dr. Brownlee so eloquently reminds viewers.
The World Heritage Project
Philadelphia has joined a prestigious company of 300 international cities as a World Heritage City – the first in the United States!
Philly is uniquely positioned to take advantage of many new opportunities for economic growth, international relationships, historic preservation, and increased tourism.
Promote preservation and appreciation of our geographical, historical and cultural heritage through WHC designation and continued education.
Provide a powerful economic and cultural stimulus to the region.
Inspire citizens to feel pride in their World Heritage City.
We intend to accomplish these goals through the following strategies:
Implement a public engagement campaign to inform the regional population about Philadelphia’s status as a World Heritage City and activate a discussion of the resulting opportunities.
Partner with existing organizations to facilitate brand recognition of Philadelphia as a World Heritage City in the region, nation, and world.
Champion the education of all Philadelphians about our diverse and interconnected histories and cultures.
Participate in a broad range of activities with OWHC and its global member cities, increasing Philadelphia’s international presence.
Advocate and support an International Department within the City of Philadelphia to focus on global opportunities and support brand recognition.
Support and draw attention to the many diverse heritages of communities throughout the Greater Philadelphia area.
What has been done to carry out Philadelphia’s World Heritage Strategic Plan so far? Discover our First Year Review video:
10 Benefits of the World Heritage City Designation
In becoming a World Heritage City, Philadelphia aims to preserve its unique historic assets while also invigorating the city’s culture and economy.
Considerable research documents the benefits enjoyed by other cities as a result of their World Heritage City status.
We anticipate similar results for Philadelphia.
Increased Global Competitiveness
Enhanced stature of Philadelphia brand
New Business Attraction
Increase in tourism & conferences
Higher revenue for arts & culture
Increased land & property values
Attraction of grants & investments
Promotion of sustainable practice
Global Network & Accessibility
Heightened Awareness of City’s Cultural Heritage
PARTNERS AND SPONSORS
Philadelphia World Heritage Founding Committee
World Heritage City Implementation Group
The following have generously contributed to Philadelphia World Heritage Initiative.
The Philadelphia World Heritage Project would also like to acknowledge the pioneering contributions of the original Project Team, some of whom no longer hold office with the City of Philadelphia. These include:
Alan Greenberger, formerly Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Director of Commerce,
Sapna Bhatt, formerly Director of International Investment in the Commerce Department, and
Fernando Trevino, formerly Deputy Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs
Support World Heritage PHL
There are numerous ways that you can support
the World Heritage Philadelphia effort.