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Philadelphia Becomes World Heritage City

Independence Hall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the backdrop for Pope Francis as he spoke in Philadelphia, Sept. 26, 2015.

Philadelphia has become the first U.S. city to become a World Heritage City, recognized for its importance to American history and democracy.

The Organization of World Heritage Cities gave Philadelphia the designation, already held by about 260 cities around the world, in a vote Friday at its general congress in Peru.

Philadelphia government officials and business leaders have been campaigning for several years for the distinction. The city, the nation's fifth largest, already met the minimum requirement for the honor because it is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site — Independence Hall.

The hall is where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and also where the U.S. Constitution was debated and signed in 1787.

Philadelphia is also home to the Liberty Bell and is known for its vibrant arts scene, which includes the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Government officials say they hope being a World Heritage City will boost both domestic and international tourism.

The city recently hosted Pope Francis and will host the Democratic National Convention next summer.