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Designation Criteria

The Commission’s ordinance, Section 14-2007(5) of the Philadelphia Code prescribes the criteria for listing on the Philadelphia Register. They include:
  1. Has significant character, interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the City, Commonwealth or Nation or is associated with the life of a person significant in the past; or
  2. Is associated with an event of importance to the history of the City, Commonwealth or Nation; or
  3. Reflects the environment in an era characterized by a distinctive architectural style; or
  4. Embodies distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style or engineering specimen; or
  5. Is the work of a designer, architect, landscape architect or designer, or engineer whose work has significantly influenced the historical, architectural, economic, social, or cultural development of the City, Commonwealth or Nation; or
  6. Contains elements of design, detail, materials or craftsmanship which represent a significant innovation; or
  7. Is part of or related to a square, park or other distinctive area which should be preserved according to an historic, cultural or architectural motif; or
  8. Owing to its unique location or singular physical characteristic, represents an established and familiar visual feature of the neighborhood, community or City; or
  9. Has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in pre-history or history; or
  10. Exemplifies the cultural, political, economic, social or historical heritage of the community.

Benefit of Historic Designation

Protection against inaccurate or unsympathetic alterations and unnecessary demolition offers a means to assure the preservation of the character of a resource or neighborhood. Historic designation serves as yet another tool for a community to retain its physical integrity. In Philadelphia and other cities, this has helped to enhance property values and to foster community pride. In addition, owners may request technical assistance from the Commission staff. Finally, for many, the ownership of a recognized cultural resource brings with it a satisfying sense of trusteeship of the past for the future. Owners of properties on the Philadelphia Register may apply for a Philadelphia Historical Commission plaque. Interested persons should contact the staff to request a plaque application.