top of page

A Legacy Planning Framework

Asset 3.png

Philadelphia 2026

Fall '23 Studio

Tre Ambroise

Bailey Bradford

Shefali Gupta

Katie Hanford

Sidney Kuesters

Jiahang Li

Alec Pompeo

Kathleen Scopis

Samantha Shasanya

Yang Yang

250 Years in the Making

As the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, it’s only natural that the nation’s birthdays should be celebrated in Philadelphia. Every 50 years, the city hosts a major commemoration for the occasion, with each event leaving a major mark on the city. The 1876 Centennial Exposition brought us Fairmount Park as well as the 1776 Bicentennial iconic imagery that would come to define the Sixer’s brand.


In the summer of 2026, Philadelphia will be host to three mega-events—six FIFA World Cup games, the semiquincentennial (America’s 250th), and the MLB All Star Game. Philadelphia 250, a non-profit leading efforts to plan for the semiquincentennial in Philadelphia, is planning to commemorate the occasion year-round in select gateway neighborhoods throughout the city. The World Cup alone is anticipated to bring in $500 million in economic impact and 500,000 visitors. How can Philly be positioned to thwart the challenges and seize the opportunities posed by an event of this scale? 2026 can be an opportunity to showcase Philadelphia’s dynamic culture and leverage investments to make a long-term, equitable impact throughout the city.

Mega-event planning is a complex and fraught process. Traditional mega-events, while being helpful in bringing notoriety and grandeur to host cities, face numerous issues after the fact, including soaring costs in infrastructure and development planning, temporary uses for new physical developments and questionable profitability for host cities. Host city expenses often soar over initial projections, even in the magnitude of billions of dollars. Modern host cities are thinking about how they can prioritize the building of reusable infrastructure and introducing policies that will far outlast the event they are hosting. Philadelphia should be incorporating these strategies while planning for the events of 2026.

This Fall 2023 studio explored the complexities of planning for mega events and prepared toolkits addressing a variety of areas—from administrative burden, to economic development, to cycling and waste management. These projects aim to ensure that 2026 will leave a lasting positive memory for Philadelphians and the city’s local organizations, communities, and agencies alike, while staying realistic about what can be accomplished in the short time before 2026.

Philly Studio Tour-21.jpg

Recognizing Roots


The key to successful Gateways lays in leveraging existing community assets around the city. While the following details one path towards selecting potential Gateway areas, Philly’s best resources for planning these events are found with its community leaders and local organizations.


A foundation for Philadelphia’s success in 2026 will be the promotion of Gateways to ensure that the influx of visitors, their spending power, and greater investments are distributed throughout the city as opposed to areas that will already see high visitor traffic, like Center City and the Stadium District.


Figure 1 highlights selected Gateway districts around Philadelphia. While designated cultural sites cluster around Center City, Fairmount Park, and Germantown, the 250th presents an opportunity to highlight other sites recognized within local communities. 250th celebrations should be built by, and belong to, all Philadelphians. Nobody knows Philly neighborhoods better than those who live there.  Because of this, it is crucial to involve local organizations and community leaders not only as stakeholders, but as creators and collaborators. During PHILADELPHIA250’s Sunset Social event, we invited attending local organizations and community leaders to talk about where they participate in resources across the city. The selected Gateway districts closely reflect those conversations.


Philadelphia’s vibrant immigrant cultures also should play a significant role in planning for 2026. Figure 2 highlights were immigrants are settling in the city. the spread of residents born outside of the US. Engaging communities with a strong immigrant presence allows for more inclusive activities to be offered throughout the year. Some communities that may be highlighted include Oxford Circle, Lower Moyamensing, and Elmwood Park.

  1. Manayunk / Roxborough

  2. Germantown

  3. Oxford Circle

  4. Benjamin Rush  State Park

  5. Glen Foerd

  6. Tacony

  7. West Fairmount Park

  8. Strawberry Mansion

  9. Centro de Oro

  10. Richmond Street

  11. American Street

  12. Schuylkill Riverwalk

  13. Lower Moyamensing

  14. Stadium District

  15. Elmwood Park

  16. 52nd Street

Percent Foreign Born​

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 8.10.41 PM.png

Celebrate, Locally

The Problem With Philadelphia’s Event Planning

In 2026, Philadelphia will be welcoming the world as it hosts the most popular sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup. In many communities around the world, the return of the tournament every 4 years is associated with the community gathering in an open space, sharing food and drinks, and anxiously watching their country perform on the greatest international stage.

We want to make this kind of event possible for communities in Philadelphia. However, the current event permitting process in Philadelphia makes it incredibly difficult and expensive to organize such events and ensure equitable access to vendors. Additionally, open space within which to host these events is often needlessly limited.

Event Permitting Processes are Too Complicated


Philadelphia’s event permitting process is messy at best. For a community organization to host an event in a public space in Philadelphia, the entity may have to get as many as 8 different permits housed within several different city departments. Timelines often do not match the needs of a last-minute event such as a World Cup celebration. To showcase these complexities, we created a Decision Tree.

To streamline these processes, Mayor Parker’s administration should consider:

  • Consolidating applications into one system, like a single PDF or a website walkthrough. L&I’s Building Permit Navigator could also be used as a template for a web-formatted permitting process.

  • Solidify permit and service fees and make them publicly available.

  • Shorten and streamline permit submission timeframes to allow for last-minute celebrations in the event of World Cup wins.

Vendors and Street Sales

Vendor accessibility to events is limited. Beyond it being complex to simply host events in the city, the process to have vendors at such events hosts a unique set of barriers. Vendors in Philadelphia are spatially restricted to events hosted within certain areas of the city, and if they are welcome, are not met with good access to business opportunities or operating permits. While a vendor portal does exist for the city, the portal hosts lacks several key aspects such as: appropriate availability Special Vending Licenses, accessible and far-reaching communication methods, and accessibility to the public.

To improve vendor relations, Mayor Parker’s administration should consider:

  • Establish a comprehensive vendor support system within the existing Philadelphia portal, including

  • A clear information guide (NYU Street Vendor serves as a great case study)

  • Live vendor matchmaking capabilities

  • A public database of vendors with current eligibility status

  • Live chat support

Expanding Space for Celebration

Many neighborhoods lack the open space to host community events. Even if communities had all of the resources necessary to host the events they wish, the availability of space is not guaranteed. Many neighborhoods around the city have limited access to open and green spaces, meaning that they need to either shut down a street or use spaces farther away. In order to properly address the inadequate event hosting environment in the city, we need to sufficiently answer the question: “Where can we celebrate?”


To expand usable and event-ready open space, Mayor Parker’s administration should consider:

  • Leverage current public spaces by conducting thorough assessments of their use, accessibility, and amenities.

  • Scale up the PHS LandCare Program to encompass additional neighborhoods, broadening its impact on transforming vacant lots into vibrant community spaces. Consider factors such as population density, community engagement, and cultural significance to guide the targeted growth of the program.

  • Explore Collaborative Grant Programs to encourage community-led initiatives for transforming vacant spaces

Bike Philly

2026 will bring an estimated 500,000 visitors from around the world, with the climax of all of these events will coinciding with July 2026—already the busiest month for cycling in any given year. The events of 2026 coincide with the goal set by the Kenney administration to build 40 miles of protected bike lanes. Despite a concerted effort to increase safety, 2023 has been the deadliest year on record in regard to cycling fatalities. 11 cyclists have been killed by collisions with cars in 2023—the deadliest year on record for cyclists in Philadelphia. [1]


As the Indego bike share system continues to grow quickly, it’s critical for the Parker administration to prioritize investments that can maximize the quality of the “hub and spoke” bicycle network to complement this growth and ensure cyclists’ safety. How can Philadelphia’s bike infrastructure—both Indego and the street network—be prepared to give visitors a safe and comfortable experience by bike?


Growth in Cycling is Transforming Urban Transportation


As public transit in the US has struggled to recover ridership in the wake of the pandemic, bike and e-scooter sharing systems across the country have broken ridership and expansion records. [2] Cycling in Philadelphia, and its bikeshare system Indego, have taken part in this national trend of growth. Indego has already surpassed it’s pre-pandemic peak at 353,000 in Q3 2023, featuring a surge in e-bike use. [3]

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 8.24.04 PM.png

Building the Confidence to Cycle Through Cognitive Mapping


Cycling is one of the few modes of transportation where perceptions of comfort and safety can outweigh time and cost in making the choice. [4] Infrastructure design choices make a massive impact on both of these fronts. Promoting separated bike lanes over conventional lanes, which are demarcated by paint alone, go far in making cycling safer and giving a more cycling-skeptical population the confidence to ride.


High-quality, protected infrastructure can only go so far without network connectivity. Many people who are unfamiliar with where they’re at might jump to Google Maps, enter their destination, and get a point A to point B output. This is what’s known as the turn-to-turn method—you follow step by step, trusting that it gets you from point A to point B.


However, this doesn’t really give you the genuine confidence to navigate a new city. Even if a process is strictly point A to B, people often rely on landmarks, other people, and route quality or comfort to guide their decisions. This is known as wayfinding orientation, which engages other ways of imagining our landscape beyond a strict spatially accurate geography. Residents and visitors alike acquire a richer understanding of how to get around—a process known as cognitive mapping—through receiving both wayfinding orientation and turn-by-turn directions. [5]


Making an Impact Through Enhanced Indego Wayfinding


How can we maximize the quality and accessibility of information available at an Indego station? Most signage at Indego stations is purely advertising, which is key for the system to maintain a healthy revenue stream, but does nothing to enhance the bike share experience. A handful of Indego stations have included supplementary signing in addition to advertising. We propose to enhance these signs in the following ways to maximize information accessibility and quality, based on precedent in SEPTA Metro and the Mexico City Metro system design that grew out of the Mexico 1968 Olympics. [6]

[1] Brunet, Nicole. 2023. “10th Bicycle Death makes 2023 the highest year on record.” Bicycle Coaltion of Greater Philadelphia.

[2] U.S. Department of Transportation. 2023 “Bikeshare and E-scooter Systems in the U.S.” Bureau of Transportation Statistics.


[3] Indego. 2023. “Data.”

[4] Geller, Roger. 2006. “Four Types of Cyclists.”   


[5] Schwering, Angela. 2017. “Wayfinding Through Orientation.” Spatial Cognition & Computation 17(4), 273–303.

[6] Byrne, Emmet. 2014. ” Radiant Discord: Lance Wyman on the ’68 Olympic Design and the Tlatelolco Massacre.” Walker Art Center.

Side A: putting you and your location in context

  • Bicycle and charging icon stands out prominently on top

  • Area name takes prominence over cross street

  • Iconography prioritized over English phrases for non-English speakers

Indego New Sign_Front_1201.png
Indego New Sign_Back_1201.png

Side B: giving you the confidence to navigate the city’s bicycle network

  • Directions & time give indications of length and direction of bike ride Subway-style bike map flips traditional road hierarchy SEPTA Metro branding included to foster bike share & transit connectivity

ShopLegacy Philly


In 2026, residents & visitors will visit neighborhood gateways across the City, with many visiting iconic eateries, shops, and venues. 2026 offers a unique time for the City to celebrate the historical and cultural impact of legacy businesses and their multigenerational contribution of shaping the City. But how can the City recognize legacy small businesses in 2026 and leave-in-place long-term strategies to support them?


“Legacy Businesses” are small businesses with a long-standing presence in their community, recognized for their cultural & economic significance. Legacy businesses face multiple challenges in today’s business landscape—changing technology and consumer preferences & neighborhood demographics, a lack of succession planning, and rising operational costs. Despite their historical significance, legacy businesses must innovate and need support to thrive while preserving their legacies.


Showcasing legacy businesses throughout 2026 & after this program can help support legacy businesses and increase economic opportunity in local commercial corridors. Legacy businesses are neighborhood anchors that have helped to shape the City’s unique identity.


Make it a Philly Thing!


Philadelphia’s neighborhood gateways, iconic eateries, shops, and venues are places loved by both residents and visitors alike. By strategically showcasing local businesses in 2026, Philadelphia can maximize these significant events’ economic and cultural opportunities.


Strategies to showcase Philadelphia’s legacy businesses could include defining periods of time or particular tools where resources and attention are dedicated to shining a light on these businesses. For example, a ShopLegacy Month could be a dedicated period during which a community or city celebrates and recognizes long standing local businesses that have played a pivotal role in shaping the area’s history, culture, and economy. The Department of Commerce would sponsor booths at events like the “Christmas Village” in Dilworth and LOVE Parks and then provide grants for establishments to manage the spaces and bring on and support local businesses.


To supplement these seasonal impacts, a tool such as Passport ‘26 initiative supporting legacy small businesses in Philadelphia serves as a dynamic initiative to celebrate the city’s rich cultural heritage and stimulate economic vitality—educating individuals about cultural contributions, incentivizing repeat visits through discounts, and fostering intra-corridor collaboration.


The African Cultural Art Forum is a community store offering a range of products produced by Black crafters, makers, and other creatives (photo by flickr/7beachbum, CC BY 2.0)

Legacy Playbook


A Legacy Business Program is a small business development initiative that aims to recognize, support, and promote long standing businesses that have played a significant role in the cultural and economic history of the City. Although Philadelphia does not have a one-stop shop for legacy businesses, the Department of Commerce already offers several resources for small businesses. Envisioning a legacy business program in Philadelphia would primarily center on rebranding existing tools to consider legacy businesses & to consider additional tools to distinctly support legacy businesses.


The Legacy Business Register can be implemented before 2026. The recommendations for setting up the register involve simple tasks, such as confirming criteria and nomination processes, incorporating language into a new section of the City of Philadelphia website, and developing application documents by drawing inspiration from successful models for information reimagining. Budgeting for this program will depend on the incentives offered by the City of Philadelphia to registered legacy businesses and the program’s duration.


ShopLegacy Philly would be administered as an active registry and one-stop resource program under Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce within the Office of Neighborhood Economic Development. Creating a register will require grappling with a few key considerations, including how to define a legacy business, prioritization of commercial corridors in the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative (NPI) priority communities, and when to rebrand existing tools or create new tools.


Looking to Peer City Legacy Business Programs


Boston and San Fransisco are strong case studies to demonstrate what resources could be created with ShopLegacy Philly. In 2015, San Francisco’s Office of Small Business established a registry anf resource program for long-standing businesses, becoming the first municipal legacy business program in the U.S. Since 2015, many cities have recognized the value of long-standing businesses in preserving their cultural and economic heritage & have adopted/adapted the San Francisco model to their cities.  By supporting these businesses through incentives, recognition, and resources, municipal legacy business programs connect small business development with historic preservation.


Since 2015, cities across the United States have created legacy business programs that reflect a need to register & offer resources. These include legacy business registers, a directory to promote cultural resources and data keeping, and legacy business programs to administer technical and financial resources.

The 2012 London Olympics waste management strategy is a strong model for future mega-events (Photo by UK Department for Media, Culture, and Sport; CC BY-NC 2.0)

Step to Zero Waste


In 2026, Philadelphia has an opportunity to take a huge step forward in achieving its goal of being a zero-waste city by 2035, as outlined in the 2017 Litter and Zero Waste Action Plan. With Semiquincentennial commemorations, FIFA World Cup soccer games, block parties, watch parties, street festivals, and parades, neighborhoods around the city will be abuzz with people and activities! Our studio group explored how the city can leverage the citywide events taking place in 2026 to educate, create buy-in, and develop trust about the importance of moving the city toward the zero-waste goal. Visitors will see Philadelphia as a sustainable 21st century city. Residents will take pride in a clean, forward-thinking city that is leading the way in developing creative innovation solutions to waste management.   


Reaching zero-waste is critical for Philadelphia for several reasons:


Zero-Waste in Philadelphia


Like more than 90 cities across the United States, Philadelphia has a zero waste goal. Set in 2017 by the Zero Waste and Litter Cabinet (ZWLC), Philadelphia will divert 90% of its waste away from landfills and incinerators by 2035. Cities across the country have identified dozens of focus areas to reach their goal. Many of the strategies are unique to the locale. Philadelphia identified four zero waste focus areas.


With Philadelphia’s rich calendar of events each year, the ZWLC created a Zero Waste Events Program that made a system for waste diversion during events. Through a collaborative effort between city departments, event planners could opt-in to the zero waste events program. Opting in would trigger a bundle of services including volunteers, 3-stream waste bins, best practices tips, and use of a tool to calculate waste diversion rates.


This Program effectively ended when the ZWLC was disbanded in 2020. However, zero-waste concepts are alive and well in Philadelphia. Both private businesses and the city are engaging in both zero-waste and circular economy efforts, including composting at 50 city recreation centers, the 2021 plastic bag ban, and zero-waste refill service The Rounds. 2026 is a perfect time to recreate, expand, and improve this program.


Waste diversion has many benefits, including lessening the use of incinerators that cause health issues like asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure in surrounding communities. Additionally, Zero Waste efforts are critical to curbing he heavy fiscal and quality of life impacts caused by illegal dumping. Philadelphia spends more than $48 million annually to address these issues.




Our studio group has created six recommendations that we encourage the Parker Administration to implement for how events can help the city reach zero-waste. These were formulated by researching waste diversion in Philadelphia, studying international best practices, and talking with Philadelphia waste advocates.


Mayor-Elect Parker campaigned on creating a cleaner and greener Philadelphia. By pursuing zero-waste events, a cleaner and greener city will be on display for visitors and residents alike for the events of 2026, a legacy that could last for decades to come.

Screen Shot 2024-04-23 at 8.42.13 PM.png
bottom of page