Philadelphia Named First World Heritage City in the U.S.
Hailed for centuries as the birthplace of American democracy, Philadelphia has now gained another important title: the first World Heritage City in the United States.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced on Friday that the Organization of World Heritage Cities had formally added the City of Brotherly Love to their ranks at the organization’s XIII World Congress in Arequipa, Peru.
With the announcement, Philadelphia has now joined 266 other world cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Cairo, Florence, Hoi An, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Marrakesh, Mexico City, Paris, Quebec, Saint Petersburg, and more. The Organization of World Heritage Cities explains under its Philadelphia listing that the city was considered for membership thanks to the global influence of the rights expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, both signed in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.
“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,” Nutter said in an official statement.
Philadelphia first joined the organization as an observer member two years ago, and submitted an application to become recognized as a World Heritage City earlier this year. The impetus for doing so goes beyond mere recognition; Philadelphia also hopes to leverage this honor into a tourism boost.
As the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, the new designation has “the potential to draw hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue.” The newspaper cites a study that indicates the World Heritage City designation “has the potential to increase foreign visitation by 10 percent to 15 percent,” meaning an additional $150 million of economic activity per year.
In the meantime, Philadelphia is celebrating its new global stature. On Wednesday, November 11, Mayor Nutter and the city’s delegation to the XIII World Congress will hold a celebratory event at 4 p.m. at the Independence Visitor Center. It’ll be yet another milestone for those historic grounds.