Press Release Mayor Press Conference 5.26.16




Philadelphia – Today, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the first annual Philadelphia World Heritage Day. Starting this year, the City of Philadelphia will celebrate its new status as a World Heritage City on every fourth Thursday of May. Mayor Kenney presented the Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) with an official proclamation from the City of Philadelphia declaring May 26, 2016 Philadelphia World Heritage Day.

Mayor Kenney proclaimed this new status a win for all Philadelphians. “I hope that all

Philadelphians can share in the pride of living in a World Heritage City. Whether we were born here or we chose to make our home here, whether we live downtown or in one of our many diverse neighborhoods, this designation is a distinct honor for all of us,” said Mayor Kenney.

The Philadelphia World Heritage City Project is a joint initiative between the 200-membe rGPA and the City of Philadelphia.  With the help of hundreds of Philadelphia stakeholders, GPA and the City are preparing a strategic plan outlining numerous and varied projects that individuals and organizations can take up to realize the potential in the City’s new status.

The City of Philadelphia and GPA had clear goals in mind when pursuing the designation, namely increasing economic development, enhancing Philadelphia’s global profile, augmenting civic pride and fostering global citizenry, especially in its young people.

“We anticipate that the World Heritage City status will have a significant impact on our economy,” said Harold T. Epps, Commerce Director, “World Heritage City status brings Philadelphia massive attention, increasing tourism and visitation, all of which brings more dollars to our businesses and ultimately leads to more jobs in the city.”

A number of the projects that will be highlighted in the World Heritage Philadelphia strategic plan were outlined during the City Hall ceremony.  Manuel Portillo, a representative of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, and Andy Toy, Director of Communications at SEAMAAC (Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition) spoke about the reach that this effort will have in capturing stories of heritage within the neighborhoods and opening the way for new neighborhood-based projects. Students from Jackson Elementary School spoke about an effort currently underway to incorporate lesson plans on world heritage into a revamped social studies curriculum for the School District of Philadelphia, which will also be available to the public online. Carlos Giralt-Cabrales, Consul General of Mexico, and Siobhan Lyons, Executive Director of Citizen Diplomacy International, outlined opportunities to leverage relationships with the 260-plus existing World Heritage Cities to promote international exchanges and business. Caroline Boyce of the Preservation Alliance announced a goal of developing and raising funds for a comprehensive inventory of heritage assets and a strategic preservation plan for the city. Greg DeShields, Executive Director of PHL Diversity, spoke about strengthening the Philadelphia economy by promoting multicultural tourism.

In addition to the project announcements, Alan Jacobson, Principal of J2 Design, a Philadelphia-based branding and design agency, presented the new identity for Philadelphia World Heritage City. The official seal represents Philadelphia’s importance in the country’s history and its continued reinvention and innovation. The seal is intended to be shared and used by institutions throughout the city to create a unifying campaign for this historic designation.

“This brand belongs to all Philadelphians to be shared and widely used. We know that Visit Philly, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Philadelphia Airport all intend to use it. We also expect cultural institutions, museums, non-profits, universities and businesses to find a way to adopt the seal in their materials,” said John F. Smith, III, Board President of Global Philadelphia Association. “With the engagement of stakeholders of all kinds, we want Philadelphians to take action and send the message to the world that we are a proud World Heritage City.”

Following the presentation, students from Jackson Elementary school presented Mayor Kenney with the official Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) flag. The students then joined the Mayor in leading a procession to the flagpole where together they raised the OWHC flag.

Philadelphia has long had a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site in the form of Independence Hall.  Independence Hall was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.  It was not until this past year, however, that the City became a full member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, giving it the status of a World Heritage City.  This came after three years of joint effort by the City and GPA and a modification of OWHC by-laws that allowed sites such as Independence Hall to meet the Organization’s requirements.

To learn more about the World Heritage Philadelphia Project, as well as to view and download the Philadelphia World Heritage City logo, visit

Join the conversation on social media:


PHL World Heritage: @PhillylovesWHC

Global Philadelphia: @GlobalPhila

Twitter Hashtags: #WorldHeritagePHL  #GlobalPHL


PHL World Heritage: @PhillylovesWHC

Global Philadelphia: @GlobalPhila

Hashtags:  #WorldHeritagePHL  #GlobalPhiladelphia


Global Philadelphia Association

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About the Global Philadelphia Association:

The Global Philadelphia Association has over 150 organization and business members and over 50 individual members.  It is organized as a Pennsylvania nonprofit corporation and is certified as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Its three-fold mission is to assist – and to encourage greater interaction among – the many organizations and people who are engaged in international activity in the Greater Philadelphia Region, to promote the development of an international consciousness within the region, and to enhance the City’s global profile.