On Friday Nov. 6, Philadelphia was recognized as a World Heritage City by the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWCH), making it the first U.S. city to receive this title. This title is an acknowledgement of the city’s historical significance, and it puts Philly on equal ground with cities like Berlin, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Paris, who have also received the award.
OWCH’s main goal is “to encourage co-operation and the exchange of information and expertise on matters of conservation and management as well as to develop a sense of solidarity among its member cities.” Philadelphia became one of those members at a summit meeting in Peru on Nov. 6. According to Fox News, “Philadelphia…qualified because Independence Hall is a UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization] World Heritage Site,” and has been since 1979. Independence Hall had previously been recognized by UNESCO due to its being the location of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. These documents merited that recognition because they’ve impacted more than just law systems in America; their values of freedom and equality have influenced systems and politicians worldwide.
Tricia L. Nadolny, a writer for the Inquirer, notes that “Philadelphia became an observing member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in 2013.” Multiple officials in business and government had campaigned for this, but it was Richard Hodges, the former director for the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, who recommended Philadelphia for consideration.
This recognition is beneficial for Philadelphia because it provides new opportunities to build the city’s cultural presence in the world. It should bring in more tourists, which will improve its economy. Nadolny notes that a study by Global Philadelphia approximates domestic tourism to rise between 1-2 percent, equating to $100-$200 million.
Mayor Michael Nutter and other officials are looking forward to seeing how this honor helps Philadelphia with local and international development.
Sources: foxnews.com, ovpm.org, philly.com