Philadelphia World Heritage City

Philadelphia: The First "World Heritage City" in the United States

Philadelphia’s heritage is globally recognized!

Philadelphia joined the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) on November 5, 2015, thereby becoming the first “World Heritage City” in the United States. With this designation, we have joined a community of about 300 World Heritage Cities around the world, including Vienna, Cairo, Paris, Jerusalem, Timbuktu, Rome, Berlin, Kyoto, and Amsterdam. View the full list of World Heritage Cities here.

Why is Philadelphia a World Heritage City?

We achieved this designation because we have a UNESCO World Heritage Site of “outstanding universal value,” Independence Hall, and because of the rich array of historic buildings and cultural sites located throughout the city, including 67 National Historic Landmarks. Our World Heritage City is also a “City of the World’s Heritages,” composed of a dynamic tapestry of unique neighborhoods and international communities, woven together to form a truly diverse city of global distinction. For more information, visit or view our 28-minute documentary here.

What can we do with this designation?

The achievement of the World Heritage City designation led to the creation of the World Heritage City Project in 2016, which was established by the City of Philadelphia and the Global Philadelphia Association to seize the opportunities that this new status affords the citizens of Philadelphia. The Project has four missions:

  • Preserving and Celebrating Historical and Cultural Assets
  • Educating Global Kids with Roots
  • Building World Heritage City Awareness and Ownership
  • Extending Philadelphia’s Global Reach

The Philadelphia World Heritage Education Program is one program within the larger World Heritage City Project and focuses on the mission "Educating Global Kids with Roots."


Teaching about World Heritage

"Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations." - UNESCO

Heritage is all about connections. Connections to our past and future. Connections to our local and global communities.

Heritage can be tangible (historic buildings, monuments, artifacts, archaeological sites, traditional dress) or intangible (dance, music, performance, oral traditions). UNESCO recognizes both cultural heritage and natural heritage. View the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites here.


Educating global kids with roots involves the exploration of global heritages as well as the heritages of Philadelphia and the diverse communities that are home to the city’s students.

Using the concept of "World Heritage" when teaching any subject (humanities, arts, STEM) provides students with a more holistic and complete picture of the world, a better understanding of their place in the world, and a clear vision of how to be a positive force at home and globally.

Two excellent introductions to teaching World Heritage are:

Philadelphia World Heritage Tool Kit

UNESCO World Heritage in Young Hands Tool Kit

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Global Philadelphia Association
100 N 18th St #530
Philadelphia, PA 19103
United States

(215) 563-2483

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