In late 2012, the Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) and the City of Philadelphia formed a partnership with the mission of securing World Heritage City status for the city. While 250+ cities throughout the world have this prestigious status, until recently, not one in the United States had achieved it. On November 6, 2015 Philadelphia became the first World Heritage City in the U.S.A.
The Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) is the international body that confers World Heritage City status. In order to be eligible for membership in this prestigious body, a city must have a site within its borders that has been inscribed by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on its World Heritage list. Philadelphia’s Independence Hall was inscribed in UNESCO’s list in 1979. In 2013, Philadelphia approached the Organization of World Heritage Cities and was approved as an Observer Member. The city then submitted an application to become a Full Member. This application was acted upon on November 6, 2015 at the OWHC’s XIIIth World Congress. Philadelphia is now officially a Full Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities.
ORGANIZATION OF THE WORLD HERITAGE CITY INITIATIVE
The World Heritage Philadelphia initiative is spearheaded by a Working Group of ten members, five delegates from the City and five from the Global Philadelphia Association.
The Working Group has overseen numerous activities leading up to the decision on Philadelphia’s candidacy and has also been developing a long-term plan for maximizing the use of the designation now that it has been secured. With help from several bodies created to support the initiative, including the Philadelphia World Heritage Committee and the Philadelphia World Heritage Society, and working with a wide variety of existing organizations in the larger community, the Initiative seeks to reach out to and engage all Philadelphians in pursuit of the goals listed below.
THE GOALS AND STRATEGIES OF THE PROJECT
Now that the designation has been secured, the Initiative will focus on three overarching goals:
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 the designation of additional UNESCO sites within Greater Philadelphia.
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS TO DATE
The Global Philadelphia Association and the City establish a joint venture to secure World Heritage City recognition for Philadelphia
OWHC grants observer member status to Philadelphia; Mayor Nutter announces this new status at the opening ceremony of the GPA’s international exposition, GlobalPhilly™2013.
Delegates from the World Heritage Philadelphia team attend the OWHC’s XIIth World Congress in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Denis Ricard, Secretary General of the OWHC, visits Philadelphia and tours a number of cultural and historical sites in the city.
The Project World Heritage team presents an initial “Case for Philadelphia” to the OWHC.
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives passes Resolution 850 in support of Philadelphia’s efforts to become a World Heritage City.
Mayor Nutter signs an ordinance, introduced by Philadelphia City Councilman Squilla, naming the portion of Walnut Street adjacent to Independence Park “World Heritage Way.”
Philadelphia celebrates Solidarity Day of World Heritage Cities, unveiling World Heritage Way to the public.
Two World Heritage Philadelphia team members attend the Biannual Regional Secretariat meeting in Quedlinburg, Germany.
Mayor Nutter convenes the inaugural meeting of the Philadelphia World Heritage Committee, an advisory board of 28 senior leaders from Philadelphia’s corporate and institutional communities.
Philadelphia World Heritage Society is created.
Mayor Nutter issues a Proclamation in honor of Solidarity Day of World Heritage Cities, encouraging Philadelphia citizens to appreciate their extraordinary cultural and historical heritage and commending the work of the OWHC worldwide.
Over 100 Philadelphia leaders convene at a Symposium on World Heritage.
Philadelphia is officially named a Full Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities at the XIII World Congress in Arequipa, Peru.
Executive Director of Global Philadelphia
SUPPORT WORLD HERITAGE PHL
There are numerous ways that you can support
the World Heritage Philadelphia effort.
Individuals can become a member of the World Heritage Society or a Friend of World Heritage.
Companies and institutions have the opportunity to become a sponsor and join the Philadelphia World Heritage Committee.
Interested in getting involved as a volunteer?