The Global Philadelphia Association and the City of Philadelphia joined together with the goal of making Philadelphia an official member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Their effort was successful: Philadelphia is the first and only World Heritage City in the United States.
The World Heritage City designation on November 6, 2015 comes as the result of a two-year campaign spearheaded by the Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) and is expected to enhance the City's international stature and provide a new growth engine to drive tourism and commerce in the region.
Founded in 2010, the Global Philadelphia Association boasts over 150 members and a board of directors comprised of more than 30 of Philadelphia's most internationally-minded representatives and organizations, including World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia President Linda Mysliwy Conlin. GPA's mission is to assist--and encourage greater interaction among--the many organizations and people who are engaged in international activity within the Greater Philadelphia region; promote the development of an international consciousness within the region; and enhance the region's global profile.
Philadelphia, the fifth-largest U.S. city, now joins a network of over 266 other World Heritage Cities in the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). Highlighting the OWHC fraternity and global connection, a recent article by Observer states World Heritage Cities have a combined population of over 130 million, with Italy and Spain leading in city representation, 20 each; followed by France, Mexico and Germany, each with 11.
After being granted the status of an Observer Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in 2013, the City of Philadelphia now stands as a full member of OWHC, and the first and only World Heritage City in the United States. The new OWHC status was formally revealed on Friday, the 6th of November, through a vote taken by the XIII World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru.
"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," said Mayor 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."
Now that the designation has been secured, the Global Philadelphia Association Initiative will focus on 3 overarching goals: 1) Promote preservation and appreciation of Philadelphia's geographical, historical and cultural heritage through WHC designation and continued education. 2) Provide a powerful economic and cultural stimulus to the region. 3) Inspire citizens to feel pride in their World Heritage City.
World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia looks forward to continued partnership with GPA in building upon the WHC distinction and OWHC membership to forge the next era of culture, commerce, and global community.