Philadelphia becomes first World Heritage City in US

Monday, November 9th, 2015. Filed under: Art Destinations U.S. News
Independence Hall in Philadelphia © f11photo/

Independence Hall in Philadelphia
© f11photo/

(Relaxnews) – Philadelphia has become the first US city to earn the distinction of being a World Heritage City, an exclusive club that includes the likes of Paris, Rome, Cairo and Kyoto.

Up to now, the World Heritage Cities club counted 266 destinations around the world with the conspicuous absence of any US cities.

But after two years of campaigning for inclusion, Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the US, has gained membership into the elite group.

Announced out of Arequipa, Peru at the 13th annual World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities last week, the new designation recognizes the Philadelphia’s importance in American history.

The city is home to Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was forged, changing the course of history and birthing a new nation in 1776.

It was also at Independence Hall where the Constitution was debated, written and signed.

The historic site was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

“As a World Heritage City, Philadelphia is being officially recognized on the global stage for its wealth of contributions to the world as the epicenter of American democracy and for its enduring commitment to preserving the unique historical and cultural assets in our diverse community,” said Mayor Michael Nutter in a statement.

City officials are also hoping that the new designation will help attract more tourists to the city, which currently hosts about 40 million visitors a year.

While Independence Hall is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city, the title of most popular belongs to the Reading Terminal Market, the oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the US with a history dating back to 1892.

Other popular visitor attractions include the Franklin Institute, a science museum, Valley Forge National Historic Park, and of course, the Rocky Statue and steps, a rite of passage that entails singing the theme song, sprinting up the stairs and bursting into a victory dance at the top.

This past fall, Philadelphia was cast into the international spotlight after hosting Pope Francis.

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