The film director, who fought to rebuild the theatre for many frustrating years but who died in 1993 before his dream was fulfilled, was named the 1997 Ambassador for London.
Lord Renwick, chairman of the judging panel, said: "Sam Wanamaker receives our recognition for his extraordinary vision, leadership, energy and determination in realising his dream of recreating Shakespeare's Globe Theatre for the benefit of all Londoners and for countless visitors, artists and scholars in the future."
Sam Wanamaker visited London in the Forties, expecting to find a monument to the world's greatest playwright. Instead he found only a plaque commemorating the location of the Globe Theatre and vowed one day to remedy the lack of a memorial.
Thirty years later he set up a trust and began to raise funds. By 1995 more than pounds 12m had been raised. This was matched by the same amount from the National Lottery and the Globe was secure.
Collecting the award on behalf of Wanamaker, artistic director Mark Rylance said: "Taking London as his family's adoptive home during the Fifties, Sam always loved London, and, with education at the heart of the Globe, Sam's vision encompassed young people and visitors of all ages, as well as the recreation of the theatre itself.
"We are all very thrilled that you have honoured Sam with a fitting title - Ambassador for London - and hope this will encourage the assistance we still need to fulfil all Sam's dreams for the project."
The theatre attracts thousands of visitors a week and the accompanying Globe Exhibition was last year named best attraction in Europe.