Philadelphia is the Nation's First World Heritage City

GPA's World Heritage Education and Community initiatives

Check out some footage from week 1 of the World Heritage Education Program at Norris Square! The students are wonderful!

Discover the video of World Heritage Day 2017 at Tilden Middle School


PHL World Heritage City - The Movie!

The Philadelphia World Heritage City film is a 28-minute documentary written and narrated by University of Pennsylvania Professor of History of Art, David B. Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, and produced and directed by filmmaker Sam Katz.

Created to commemorate the historic designation of Philadelphia as the First World Heritage City in the United States, the film offers an exceptional glimpse into the formation and development of Philadelphia, illustrating the city’s leadership role in the fields of art, transportation, urban planning, medicine and more.

The film spans centuries, touching upon the formation of some of Philadelphia’s unique neighborhoods and how far Philadelphia has come from the idealistic plan envisioned by William Penn in the 17th century. Now, with a World Heritage City designation by the Organization of World Heritage Cities, Philadelphia should fully embrace its rich heritage as Dr. Brownlee so eloquently reminds viewers.


Click here for the movie with Chinese subtitles.

Movie with Spanish subtitles.

Movie with Japanese subtitles.

Movie with Korean subtitles.

Movie with Arabic subtitles.

About Dr. David Brownlee
David B. Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, is the Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of modern architecture and urbanism in Europe and America, his many writings on Philadelphia topics include:

  • Building the City Beautiful: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1989),
  • Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture (with David G. De Long,1991),
  • Making a Modern Classic: The Architecture of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1997),
  • Out of the Ordinary: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates
  • Architecture, Urbanism, Design (with David De Long and Kathryn Hiesinger, 2001),
  • and The Barnes Foundation: Two Buildings, One Mission (2012).

His scholarship has won five major publication awards, and he was named a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians in 2015. Brownlee is a recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2007-2012 he was editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Active in public service, Brownlee served a term on Historic Preservation Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for 15 years on the Philadelphia Historical Commission, where he chaired the designation committee.
He has been a member of the board of the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks and is now a member of the board of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. He was a founding member of the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia, which he now serves as a vice chair. Click here for his CV

About Sam Katz:
Sam Katz is a lifelong Philadelphian who has had a unique career in public and project finance, venture capital, civic affairs, development, politics and documentary filmmaking.
Sam spent 20 years as CEO of Public Financial Management and worked with cities, counties and state governments throughout the nation on financial distress and capital funding. He structured the financing for sports facilities including the Wachovia Center and Camden Yards. More recently he chaired the State authority that exercised oversight over Philadelphia’s finances. And he was a candidate for Mayor (1991, 1999, 2003) and Governor (1994).
Over the past eight years, Sam has been producing documentary films on the history of Philadelphia including the 14 part EMMY award winning series, “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and “Urban Trinity: The Story of Catholic Philadelphia.” These films are available online at and are free of charge.



After being granted the status of an Observer Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities ( in 2013, the City of Philadelphia has become the Nation's First World Heritage City in the United States in 2015, formally receiving the designation this evening through a vote taken by the XIII World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities in Arequipa, Peru.

The designation comes as the result of a two-year campaign and is expected to enhance the City’s international stature and provide a new growth engine to drive tourism and commerce in the region.


Click here for the Strategic Plan




The star at the right of the tower represents what we, as Philadelphians, aspire to for the next generations.
The lines to the left of the tower, represent the "ideas" that propel us as a city, and the "place" that put us on the map.
Independence Hall symbolizes the modern democracy and popular sovereignty we can all be proud of!







Become a member of the Society by contributing to the Global Philadelphia Association: click here!


Join us on Twitter and use #PhillyLovesWHC


Jill Horner speaks with Zabeth Teelucksingh, Executive Director of Global Philadelphia Association, about Philadelphia becoming a World Heritage City.   

All the latest info, press release and news coverage here...



We would like to thank our founding members. 

Click here for more information to become a World Heritage Society Member.


We also thank our Founding Corporate Sponsors



Historically, Philadelphia was the home of the founding concepts of religious tolerance and liberty; groundbreaking developments in urban planning; the search for political freedom and the creation of a nation based on the principles of democracy and human rights; and contributions to medicine through three centuries - to name only a few criteria of world heritage that might be emphasized in a proposal for UNESCO World Heritage City designation.

These themes and others are embodied in an extraordinary inventory of historic structures that are already being preserved and are worthy of world-wide celebration.

Observer Membership with the Organization of World Heritage Cities based on the City's current credentials, and subsequently under the UNESCO standards, would have major benefits for Philadelphia's renown as an international city. 


Click here to see the large format full-color map which features the World Heritage sites.
Click here for an interactive map.