City of Philadelphia and Global Philadelphia Association pursue full membership of the Organization of World Heritage Cities
Philadelphia, September 8, 2014 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter was joined by Councilman Mark Squilla and other officials today to officially rename Walnut Street between 5th and 6th streets ‘World Heritage Way’ in recognition of the presence of Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in celebration of the Organization of World Heritage Cities’ Solidarity Day of the World Heritage Cities. Today’s ceremony was the latest component of an effort by the City of Philadelphia and the Global Philadelphia Association for Philadelphia to become a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). The City of Philadelphia joined the OWHC in September 2013 as an ‘observer member’, the first United States city to join the OWHC.
“The traditions, and beliefs and ideals through which we pursue a more perfect union had their origin here and so it is appropriate that we recognize this world heritage site in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “Philadelphia is one of the world’s great cities and through our work with the Organization of World Heritage Cities, we will increase international awareness of Philadelphia and claim our rightful place among global cities whose heritage has shaped the world.”
The street renaming was made possible by a resolution of City Council, introduced by Councilman Mark Squilla and passed by City Council earlier this year.
“I am proud to have done my part to help advance the application for Philadelphia to become a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities,” said Councilman Mark Squilla. “One need look no further than Independence Hall or the Liberty Bell or any of the hundreds of historically significant places that helped to shape this country to see that Philadelphia is indeed a city of historic significance. But, Philadelphia is not a historic city whose best times are behind her, we are also a cutting edge modern city as evidenced by our burgeoning downtown area filled with modern day skyscrapers which produce cutting edge technology and services; and we have some of the best medical and educational institutions in the world which help to shape the minds of our future generations. I believe the designation of Philadelphia as a full blown member of the OWHC will help to strengthen Philadelphia’s reputation as not only a world class city but a true world heritage city.”
The City of Philadelphia, through the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs, is partnering with the Global Philadelphia Association in pursuit of full membership of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. The OWHC is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organization which exists to encourage, on both regional and international levels, cooperation and the exchange of information and expertise among historic cities throughout the world. In 2013, the City of Philadelphia became an observer member of the organization. In March 2014, the City hosted Denis Ricard, the General Secretary of the OWHC, who observed that, “Philadelphia is a city which respects its past, while looking towards the future.” John F. Smith, III, Chair of the Global Philadelphia Association, has led the effort to elevate Philadelphia’s global presence in relation to heritage.
“Philadelphia is uniquely gifted with historical assets and achieving full international recognition of those assets presents a huge opportunity for our city,” said Smith. “The case for Philadelphia is clear, as are the economic, cultural, and tourism benefits of full membership of the OWHC and pursuit of World Heritage City status. The Global Philadelphia Association is proud to partner with the City of Philadelphia and encourages all interested partners to join the effort.”
The ceremony to mark the Solidarity Day of the World Heritage Cities took place at Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, at 2:00 P.M. The ceremony was emceed by Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and co-chair of the effort to achieve full membership of the OWHC.
“Enhancing Philadelphia’s international presence is a clear priority for this Administration, whether through trade missions to create business opportunities for Philadelphia companies, international business moving to Philadelphia, or deepening relationships with Sister Cities around the world,” said Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger. “Becoming a World Heritage City is a key component of that strategy and we are thankful for the efforts of the Global Philadelphia Association and all of our other partners.”