Philadelphia Becomes First World Heritage City in the U.S.


It must actually be sunny in Philadelphia, because it was just given a designation that no other U.S. city claims. Last month, Philly was named the first World Heritage City in the United States by the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC).

What is World Heritage?

So is this World Heritage as in UNESCO? Not quite. OWHC is a separate international non-profit organization of 266 cities. Yet, to become a World Heritage City a city must first be recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List and adhere to OWHC values. OWHC’s goals include: helping cities protect cultural and natural heritage, encouraging collaboration among historic cities, promoting research and civic management, and public awareness.

Epicenter of Democracy

Philadelphia campaigned for this honor for two years, and city leaders hope this will promote its international stature and tourism.

“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,” said Mayor Michael Nutter.

Philadelphia’s OWHC application began where democracy began. Independence Hall, where the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979.

My Quick Trip

My experience with Philly is limited to 30th Street Station layovers en route to the Jersey Shore. Once, I did squeeze in enough time to taxi to the Liberty Bell, stand in line, and snap a photo. My inner history geek has always compelled me to dust off my Williamsburg mob cap (yes, I own this) and roam the City of Brotherly Love. Oh, and I hear the food’s ok.

Where are your favorite places in Philadelphia?

Quick stop at the Liberty Bell in 2010.


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