Global city

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: General Geography

A global city or world city are a concept which postulates that globalisation can be broken down in terms of strategic geographic locales that see global processes being created, facilitated and enacted. The most complex of these entities is the "global city", whereby the linkages binding a city have a direct and tangible effect on global affairs through more than just socio-economic means, with influence in terms of culture, or politics. The terminology of "global city", as opposed to megacity, is thought to have been first coined by Saskia Sassen in reference to London, New York and Tokyo in her 1991 work The Global City.

General characteristics

It has been argued that global cities are those sharing the following characteristics:

  • International, first-name familiarity; whereby a city is recognised without the need for a political subdivision. For example. although there are numerous cities and other political entities with the name Paris or variations on it, one would say "Paris", not "Paris, France".
  • Active influence and participation in international events and world affairs; for example, New York City is home to the United Nations headquarters complex and consequently contains a vast majority of the permanent missions to the UN.
  • A fairly large population (the centre of a metropolitan area with a population of at least one million, typically several million).
  • A major international airport (for example, London Heathrow Airport) that serves as an established hub for several international airlines.
  • An advanced transportation system that includes several freeways and/or a large mass transit network offering multiple modes of transportation ( rapid transit, light rail, regional rail, ferry, or bus).
  • In the West, several international cultures and communities (such as a Chinatown, a Little Italy, or other immigrant communities). In other parts of the world, cities which attract large foreign businesses and related expatriate communities; for example, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Moscow.
  • International financial institutions, law firms, corporate headquarters (especially conglomerates), and stock exchanges (for example the London Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange or the Tokyo Stock Exchange) that have influence over the world economy.
  • An advanced communications infrastructure on which modern trans-national corporations rely, such as fiberoptics, Wi-Fi networks, cellular phone services, and other high-speed lines of communications.
  • World-renowned cultural institutions, such as museums and universities.
  • A lively cultural scene, including film festivals (for example the Toronto International Film Festival), premieres, a thriving music or theatre scene (for example, West End theatre and Broadway); an orchestra, an opera company, art galleries, and street performers.
  • Several powerful and influential media outlets with an international reach, such as the BBC, Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, The Times, or Agence France-Presse.
  • A strong sporting community, including major sports facilities, home teams in major league sports, and the ability and historical experience to host international sporting events such as the Olympic Games, Football World Cup, or Grand Slam tennis events.

To some, London, New York City, Paris, and Tokyo have been traditionally considered the 'big four' world cities – not coincidentally, they also serve as symbols of global capitalism. However, many people have their own personal lists, and any two lists are likely to differ based on cultural background, values, and experience.

In certain countries, the rise of suburbia and the ongoing migration of manufacturing jobs to these countries has led to significant urban decay. Therefore, to boost urban regeneration, tourism, and revenue, the goal of building a "world-class" city has recently become an obsession with the governments of some mid-size cities and their constituents.

The phenomenon of world-city building has also been observed in Buenos Aires, Santiago, Frankfurt, Montréal, Sydney, Mexico City and Toronto: each of these cities has emerged as large and influential.

GaWC Inventory of World Cities (1999 Edition)

An attempt to define and categorise world cities was made in 1999 by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC), based primarily at Loughborough University in Loughborough, Leicestershire, England. The roster was outlined in the GaWC Research Bulletin 5 and ranked cities based on provision of "advanced producer services" such as accountancy, advertising, finance and law, by international corporations. The GaWC inventory identifies three levels of world cities and several sub-ranks.

Note that this roster generally denotes cities in which there are offices of certain multinational companies providing financial and consulting services rather than other cultural, political, and economic centres. There is a schematic map of GaWC cities at their website.

Alpha world cities (full service world cities)

Beta world cities (major world cities)

Gamma world cities (minor world cities)

Evidence of world city formation

Strong evidence

Some evidence

Minimal evidence

GaWC Leading World Cities (2004 Edition)

An attempt to redefine and recategorise leading world cities was made by PJ Taylor at GaWC in 2004.
This ranking list is referred to as the Official GaWC List.

Global Cities

Well rounded global cities

  1. Very large contribution: London and New York City.
    Smaller contribution and with cultural bias: Los Angeles, Paris and San Francisco.
  2. Incipient global cities: Amsterdam, Boston, Chicago, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, Toronto.

Global niche cities - specialised global contributions

  1. Economic: Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo.
  2. Political and social: Brussels, Geneva, Strasbourg and Washington.

World Cities

Subnet articulator cities

  1. Cultural: Berlin, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Munich, Oslo, Rome, Stockholm.
    Political: Bangkok, Beijing, Vienna.
  2. Social: Manila, Nairobi, Ottawa.

Worldwide leading cities

  1. Primarily economic global contributions: Frankfurt, Miami, Munich, Osaka, Singapore, Sydney, Zurich
  2. Primarily non-economic global contributions: Abidjan, Addis Ababa, Atlanta, Basle, Barcelona, Cairo, Denver, Harare, Lyon, Manila, Mexico City, Mumbai, New Delhi, Shanghai.

Global Cities Conference 2006

This conference took place at Liverpool Hope University, starting on 29 June 2006 and chaired by Dr. Lawrence Phillips of the Global Cities Conference at the university. Its aim was to establish what is meant by a 'global city', by examining criteria such as images, narratives, economics, planning and people's experiences. It also looked at whether the perceived 'big four' — London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo — are in fact the only candidates for global city status, or if they should in fact be joined by fast-growing cities in Asia or the developing world.

Other criteria

The GaWC list is based on specific criteria and, thus, may not include other cities of global significance or elsewhere on the spectrum. For example, cities with the following:

  • Large populations, proper and agglomerated
  • Diverse demographic constituencies
  • Based on various indicators:
    • Population, habitat, mobility, and urbanisation
  • Significant financial capacity/output:
    • city/regional GDP
    • Stock market indices/market capitalisation
    • Headquarters for multinational corporations
    • Financial service provision; e.g., banks, accountancy
    • Employment
  • Based on quality of life or city development
  • Based on costs of living
    • Based on personal wealth; e.g., number of billionaires
  • Significant transport infrastructure:
    • Airports with significant passenger traffic or cargo movements
    • Extensive and popular mass transit systems
    • Prominent rail usage
    • Road vehicle usage
    • Major seaports
  • Significant technological capabilities/infrastructure:
    • Prominent skylines/skyscrapers
  • Significant institutions:
    • Educational institutions; e.g., universities, international student attendance
    • Research facilities
    • Health facilities; e.g. hospitals, medical laboratories
  • Sites of pilgrimage for world religions
  • Hosting headquarters for international organizations
  • Cities containing UNESCO World Heritage Sites of historical and cultural significance
  • High endowments of cultural facilities:
    • Notable museums and galleries
    • Notable opera
    • Notable orchestras
    • Notable film centres and film festivals
    • Notable theatre centres
    • Sites of major international sports events; e.g., Olympic Games sites
  • Tourism throughput:
    • Visitors
    • Economy
    • Events
  • Site or subject in Arts and Media
    • TV,Film,Video-Games,Music
    • Literature,Magazines,Articles,Documentary
    • Historic Reference,Showcase

Table of the cities of the world

For selected criteria

Rank Population of city (proper) Population of metropolitan area Percentage foreign born Cost of living Metro systems by annual passenger ridership Annual passenger air traffic (2002) Number of billionaires (United States Dollars)
1 Mumbai Tokyo Miami Moscow Tokyo London New York City
2 Shanghai Seoul Toronto Seoul Moscow Tokyo Los Angeles
3 Karachi Mexico City Los Angeles Tokyo Seoul Chicago Moscow
4 Buenos Aires New York City Vancouver Hong Kong Mexico City New York City London
5 Delhi São Paulo New York City London New York City Atlanta Hong Kong
6 Manila Mumbai Singapore Osaka Paris Paris Chicago
7 Moscow Delhi Sydney Singapore London Los Angeles San Francisco
8 Seoul Shanghai Abidjan Copenhagen Osaka Dallas Fort-Worth Paris
9 São Paulo Kolkata London Zurich Hong Kong Frankfurt Dallas
10 İstanbul Jakarta Paris Oslo Singapore Houston Tokyo

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