On the Table Philly: Promoting Philly’s National Historic Landmarks

Global Philadelphia Association (GPA) partnered with the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) to host an On the Table Philly luncheon on October 17 in an effort to promote Philadelphia’s National Historic Landmarks (NHLs). Hosted in PAFA’s Education Center Room, the event gathered managers of Philadelphia’s 67 NHLs and tourism and heritage experts to discuss one question: how can they work together to present a richer and more inclusive picture of Philadelphia’s heritage by increasing public awareness of, and appreciation for, the city’s 67 NHLs?

Created by the Philadelphia Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the On the Table Philly series is a forum that elevates civic conversation by connecting community leaders. The NHL forum accomplished this by creating a space for heritage preservation leaders across the city to discuss their successes and challenges in overseeing Philadelphia’s NHLs. In addition to the NHL managers, representatives from Visit Philadelphia, the National Parks Service and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau were in attendance to discuss how these historic sites can elevate tourism within Philadelphia.

The event served to provide attendees with an opportunity to share their experiences with one another in order to increase their collective knowledge about the best strategies for NHL management. Attendees were divided into small groups to not only help people get to know each other better, but to provide them with a chance to bounce their ideas off a sounding board before sharing with the entire group. Although Philadelphia has such a dense concentration of NHLs, management leaders rarely have the opportunity to come together and reflect on their common experiences. Events like this raise awareness among the managers themselves, which is the first step towards elevating the Philadelphia community’s appreciation of NHLs. 

Many of the conversations that emerged throughout the event indicated that Philadelphians lack an understanding about the location of various NHLs as well as their connection to the city’s heritage. Currently, the city has undertaken a few initiatives to address this problem, such as GPA launching the National Historic Landmark Mapping Project in June 2019. However, there is still a lot of progress the city needs to make in this regard, such as by finding innovative ways to incorporate modern technology. 

The meeting generated ideas that business leaders plan to fulfill in 2020, thus revitalizing many of the NHLs in attendance. GPA specifically will work with marketers to position the connections between the different NHL sites and their audiences. By doing this, GPA will help to restore NHLs to their rightful esteem within the cultural fabric of Philadelphia. 

Click here for more information about the On The Table Philly program.


Article written by Oluwaseun Ogunleye on behalf of Global Philadelphia Association