September 25, 2017

David Brownlee releases his documentary, Philadelphia America's First World Heritage City

The Philadelphia World Heritage City film is a 28-minute documentary written and narrated by University of Pennsylvania Professor of History of Art, David B. Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, and produced and directed by filmmaker Sam Katz.

Created to commemorate the historic designation of Philadelphia as the First World Heritage City in the United States, the film offers an exceptional glimpse into the formation and development of Philadelphia, illustrating the city’s leadership role in the fields of art, transportation, urban planning, medicine and more. The film spans centuries, touching upon the formation of some of Philadelphia’s unique neighborhoods and how far Philadelphia has come from the idealistic plan envisioned by William Penn in the 17th century. Now, with a World Heritage City designation by the Organization of World Heritage Cities, Philadelphia should fully embrace its rich heritage as Dr. Brownlee so eloquently reminds viewers.

About Dr. David Brownlee David B. Brownlee, Ph.D., FSAH, is the Frances Shapiro-Weitzenhoffer Professor of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of modern architecture and urbanism in Europe and America, his many writings on Philadelphia topics include: Building the City Beautiful: The Benjamin Franklin Parkway and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1989), Louis I. Kahn: In the Realm of Architecture (with David G. De Long,1991), Making a Modern Classic: The Architecture of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1997), Out of the Ordinary: Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates Architecture, Urbanism, Design (with David De Long and Kathryn Hiesinger, 2001), and The Barnes Foundation: Two Buildings, One Mission (2012). His scholarship has won five major publication awards, and he was named a Fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians in 2015. Brownlee is a recipient of the University of Pennsylvania's Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. In 2007-2012 he was editor of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Active in public service, Brownlee served a term on Historic Preservation Board of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and for 15 years on the Philadelphia Historical Commission, where he chaired the designation committee. He has been a member of the board of the Philadelphia Society for the Preservation of Landmarks and is now a member of the board of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. He was a founding member of the Design Advocacy Group of Philadelphia, which he now serves as a vice chair.

Sam Katz is a lifelong Philadelphian who has had a unique career in public and project finance, venture capital, civic affairs, development, politics and documentary filmmaking. Sam spent 20 years as CEO of Public Financial Management and worked with cities, counties and state governments throughout the nation on financial distress and capital funding. He structured the financing for sports facilities including the Wachovia Center and Camden Yards. More recently he chaired the State authority that exercised oversight over Philadelphia’s finances. And he was a candidate for Mayor (1991, 1999, 2003) and Governor (1994). Over the past eight years, Sam has been producing documentary films on the history of Philadelphia including the 14 part EMMY award winning series, “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment” and “Urban Trinity: The Story of Catholic Philadelphia.” These films are available online at and are free of charge.