Philadelphia has become the first World Heritage City in the U.S. The announcement came in November from Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Commerce Director Alan Greenberger, and the Global Philadelphia Association.

A driving force for Philadelphia to become the first World Heritage City in the U.S. is that the city is home to Independence Hall, which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Then, in 2013, Philadelphia was approved as an Observer Member of the Organization of World Heritage Cities, and earlier this year, the World Heritage Philadelphia Executive Committee submitted an application to become a Full Member.

During that time in 2013, John F. Smith III of the Global Philadelphia Association worked with the Mayor’s Administration on the campaign.

“Philadelphia is adding another ‘first’ to its distinguished resume as the first World Heritage City in our nation,” Smith says. “This opens new doors of opportunity for Philadelphia while raising awareness of the city’s importance in today’s highly competitive global arena.”

Philadelphia joins 266 other World Heritage Cities in the Organization of World Heritage Cities.

“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,” Nutter says. “As we celebrate this milestone, the next step is to focus on the future and how we can optimize this World Heritage City recognition to attract more people to visit, invest, work, study and live in Philadelphia.”