GPA Presents "World Heritage Way"

Ellyn Matta, for GPA -- On the bright and sunny day of September 8th, Philadelphians warmly welcomed a new change on Walnut Street. In celebration of The Organization of World Heritage Cities’ Solidarity Day and of Philadelphia’s unique heritage, Walnut Street, between 5th and 6th Streets, was officially renamed World Heritage Way.

The new name denotes the presence of Philadelphia’s own World Heritage Site, Independence Hall. During the ceremony, Mayor Michael A. Nutter declared, “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.”

Mayor Nutter, together with Councilman Mark Squilla and other officials, joined enthusiastic members of the Global Philadelphia Association and the public to mark this special occasion.

Thanks to a resolution introduced by Councilman Squilla and passed by City Council earlier this year, the street name change to World Heritage Way marks a special block on Walnut Street.

“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 Squilla.

The renaming is one of GPA’s latest initiative in its pursuit to make Philadelphia a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC). OWHC is a non-profit, non-governmental organization whose main goals are to facilitate guidance for its member cities and also to boost collaboration and an exchange of information and expertise among historic cities on a global and regional level. The City of Philadelphia became an observer member of the OWHC in 2013. GPA’s efforts to become a full member of OWHC will elevate Philadelphia’s presence on a global level and create a closer relationship with other spectacular historic cities around the world.

In light of the exciting recent developments, John F. Smith III, Chair of GPA, announced, “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.”

At the ceremony, Mayor Nutter said, “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.”

Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and co-chair of the effort to achieve full membership of the OWHC, presided over the ceremony. “Enhancing Philadelphia’s international presence is a clear priority for this administration,” he said. “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.”

The new street name not only marks the special status that Independence Hall received in 1979, but will also help increase awareness of this significant designation that resonates worldwide. Greater awareness of World Heritage Site Status will help in GPA’s efforts to become a full time member of the OWHC and obtain the World Heritage City's designation.

The ceremony was an exciting moment and marked a milestone achievement for GPA. World Heritage Way marks another important step for GPA’s initiative and will further enhance Philadelphia’s image and elevate the city’s presence as a historic and cultural valuable site.

For more photos from the event, visit GPA's Flickr.