The United States has been granted its first World Heritage City, and it’s right here in the city of Philadelphia.
“Today marks the start of a new and exciting chapter in the history of Philadelphia, which is proud to become the first World Heritage City in the United States,” says Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “As a World Heritage City, Philadelphia is being officially recognized on the global stage for its wealth of contributions to the world as the epicenter of American democracy and for its enduring commitment to preserving the unique historical and cultural assets in our diverse community. As we celebrate this milestone, the next step is to focus on the future and how we can optimize this World Heritage City recognition to attract more people to visit, invest, work, study and live in Philadelphia.”
The designation was bestowed through a vote taken by the XIII World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru; it is the result of a two-year campaign. This honor is thought to enhance Philadelphia’s international reputation and drive a new growth engine to further tourism and commerce in the area.
“From its Colonial history to the present day, Philadelphia has rightfully earned its place as one of greatest cities in the world,” says Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger. “Becoming a World Heritage City is a reflection of all that we have accomplished and a confirmation of the fact that the best is yet to come as Philadelphia continues to evolve and transform itself.”
John F. Smith III, whose organization, the Global Philadelphia Association, has worked with Mayor Nutter’s Administration on the joint initiative since 2013, says, “Philadelphia is adding another first to its distinguished resume as the first World Heritage City in our nation. This opens new doors of opportunity for Philadelphia while raising awareness of the city’s importance in today’s highly competitive global arena.”
Philadelphia is home to Independence Hall (itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979) and is the location where the United States Constitution was signed—two strong points brought up in the case of the city’s application for the designation. The World Heritage Philadelphia Executive Committee submitted the application earlier this year to become a full member. Philly joins 266 other World Heritage Cities in the Organization of World Heritage Cities.
“I am thrilled to welcome Philadelphia into the Organization of World Heritage Cities,” says Denis Ricard, secretary general of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. “Over the last two years, Philadelphia has made an excellent case and is very deserving of becoming the first U.S. City to become a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities.”