A Philadelphia City-wide Survey

Photo by P. Meyer for Visit Philadelphia



Philadelphia is a city rich in history, full of diverse, dynamic stories worth recognizing and preserving. Yet the process our City uses to document and designate historic places has left many voices unheard and some of our most valuable cultural resources unprotected.  


A city-wide historic resource survey was high on the list of recommendations from Mayor Kenney’s Historic Preservation Task Force. The Philadelphia Historical Commission agrees that a survey of these resources is long overdue.  The Commission also knows that in order to preserve all histories we must also look at cultural resources —both tangible like buildings and spaces, and intangible like language, art, and cuisine— that tell these rich histories.


Over the next two and a half years, we will explore new ways of listening to the public as we work to develop a survey process that is open, inclusive, and responsive. Ultimately, this project will be the first step in an ongoing effort to engage with communities throughout the city. Working as partners, we will celebrate and protect local landmarks, culturally significant spaces, and living neighborhood traditions. 


This project is funded by a $250,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation. Its goal is to expand the existing understanding of preservation to include a wider range of tools and a more comprehensive understanding of cultural heritage. 

What are we working on?

Strategic and equitable designation that is generated by community members, and neighborhood residents

Documentation that reflects previously overlooked or ignored histories and does not rely solely on architectural importance or integrity

Protection that recognizes that preserving many spaces, sites, and expressions of cultural heritage can and should be accomplished through means other than designation


The work is underway. To ensure an equitable process, we have outlined setting up the framework for a new Survey Process will take two and a half years.

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© 2020 Philadelphia Historical Commission | 1515 Arch Street, 13th Floor  | preservation@phila.gov