Michael A. Nutter
Recently re-elected to his second term as Mayor of his hometown, Michael A. Nutter has set an aggressive agenda for America’s fifth largest city – devising the City’s innovative school reform strategy, vowing to strengthen community policing through Philly Rising, a unique partnership between vulnerable neighborhoods and the City, and continuing to implement the nationally recognized GreenWorks Philadelphia initiative that is helping to make the City of Philadelphia become the greenest city in America.
Since taking office in January 2008, Michael Nutter has vigorously managed city government through the worst recession since the Great Depression by maintaining core services and reducing the City’s spending – most notably closing a $2.4 billion gap in Philadelphia’s five year plan without compromising a single police officer, fire fighter, sanitation, or health center worker.
Born in Philadelphia and educated at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael Nutter has been committed to public service since his youth in West Philadelphia. He served almost 15 years on the Philadelphia City Council, earning the reputation of a reformer, before his election as Mayor of Philadelphia. He is happily married to his wife Lisa, and a proud parent to Christian and Olivia.
1) The Independence Hall was registered on the World Heritage List in 1979. What has been the impact of this nomination for your city?
The impact of Independence Hall as a World Heritage site has led to the revitalization of the Old City neighborhood, building of a Visitors Center, and a Constitution Center to further develop the area. In 2012, Philadelphia hosted the 40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention. Working with the Global Philadelphia Association, we look forward to expanding upon the global culture and business opportunities brought to us with membership of the Organization of World Heritage Cities.
2) In your opinion, what is the vital role of a mayor when a site has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List?
It is an opportunity for the Mayor to broaden the scope of his city by promoting the World Heritage status and by leveraging the tourism, cultural, and business opportunities therein. Philadelphia is city of firsts in many ways and is positioned to become the most sustainable city in the United States, another World Heritage connection.
3) Concretely, what have been your actions toward the protection and enhancement of your heritage?
Philadelphia has three centuries of architecture protected by among the oldest and most robust historic preservation laws in the country. Many of our most beautiful and historically rich buildings are protected by landmark status under the purview of our Historical Commission.
In addition we’re very focused upon sustainability and the long-term preservation of our city. During my January 2008 inaugural address, I pledged to make Philadelphia the number one green city in America, and as a result, I created the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The Greenworks Philadelphia plan guides a range of efforts to preserve and protect our open spaces, our neighborhoods, and to encourage a responsible use of energy and a sustainable built environment
4) Do you hold special events to enhance your city?
As America’s Birthplace, we host an amazing celebration for Independence Day. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway becomes the stage to the “largest free concert” in the country on July 4th. The concerts lead up to a spectacular fireworks display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
This concert is kicked-off by the Wawa Welcome America Festival, with the Independence National Historical Park Service hosting a reading of the Declaration of Independence, performances, and other events in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia.
We also host the two-day Made In America music festival, produced by Jay-Z and Live Nation, which attracts dozens of top performers on multiple stages at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and which this year expanded to Los Angeles.
As a city with many outdoor public spaces, we also host numerous outdoor festivals throughout the warmer months. Sporting activities include the Philly Cycling Classic, the Drexel International Squash Tournament, Aberdeen Dad Vail Rowing Regatta, and Stotesbury College Regatta. Philadelphia, long known for its numerous gardens, hosts the largest indoor flower show in the world – the Philadelphia Flower show in early March.
5) Philadelphia represents a first development in U.S.A. for the OWHC. What kind of message is your city trying to send to the other American cities that possess a site inscribed on the World Heritage List? What kind of message is your city trying to send at the international level? What is Global Philadelphia and how is it going to help you with these messages?
Joining the OWHC represents a milestone for Philadelphia to which it is uniquely attached and extremely proud. This city of firsts can showcase its many attributes to the world by becoming the first ever US city to join the organization. Beyond that it will inevitably become a leader enticing other cities to join. The Global Philadelphia Association is uniquely qualified to join us in a public private partnership.
6) In your opinion, what makes Philadelphia such a special place?
Philadelphia is the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, encapsulated in religious tolerance and many other manifestations outpouring from the ideas of its founder William Penn. Beyond that Philadelphia is an industrious, international place to work live and do business, with a quality of life that is second to none. Philadelphia is in the midst of a renaissance with evolution in culture, commerce, building, sustainability, and of course the rich heritage that it has to offer. The word is spreading. After decades of population decline Philadelphia is now growing and experienced the largest growth of 20-34 year olds of any major American city over the last eight years. This is the perfect time to showcase our history, and our future, to the rest of the world.