Global cities: Wikis


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A global city (also called world city or sometimes alpha city) is a city deemed to be an important node point in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely created, facilitated and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.

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 socio-economic means.[1] The terminology of "global city", as opposed to megacity, is thought to have been first coined by the sociologist Saskia Sassen in reference to her 1991 work, "The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo"[2] though the term "world city" to describe cities which control a disproportionate amount of global business dates to at least Patrick Geddes' use of the term in 1915.[3] Cities can fall from being appropriate to such categorization, such as in the case of cities that have become less cosmopolitan, and less internationally renowned in the current era, e.g., Kaliningrad, Russia, Thessaloniki, Greece and Alexandria, Egypt.



Global City or world city status is seen as beneficial, and because of this many groups have tried to classify and rank which cities are seen as 'world cities' or 'non-world cities'.[3] Although there is a consensus upon leading world cities,[4] the criteria upon which a classification is made can affect which other cities are included.[3] The criteria for identification tend either to be based on a "yardstick value" ("e.g. if the producer-service sector is the largest sector, then city X is a world city")[3] or on an "imminent determination" ("if the producer-service sector of city X is greater than the producer-service sector of N other cities, then city X is a world city").[3]


Economic characteristics

Political characteristics

Cultural characteristics

The Louvre in Paris

Infrastructural characteristics


GaWC studies

Alfa (Alpha) World Cities 2008

One of the first attempts to define, categorize, and rank global cities was made in 1998 by the Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC) based at the geography department of Loughborough University, United Kingdom. The roster was outlined in the GaWC Research Bulletin 5 and ranked cities based on their provision of "advanced producer services" such as accountancy, advertising, finance, and law.[4] The GaWC inventory identifies three levels of global cities and several sub-ranks. This roster generally denotes cities in which there are offices of certain multinational corporations providing financial and consulting services rather than denoting other cultural, political, and economic centres.

The 2004 rankings acknowledged several new indicators while continuing to rank city economics more heavily than political or cultural factors. The 2008 roster, similar to the 1998 version is sorted into categories of "Alpha" world cities (with four sub-categories), "Beta" world cities (three sub-categories), "Gamma" world cities (three sub-categories), and cities with "High sufficiency" or "Sufficiency" world city presence.

The 2008 roster of leading Alpha, Beta and Gamma World Cities is reproduced below; see the source for the complete roster:[28][29]

Alpha World Cities ++:

Alpha World Cities +:

Alpha World Cities:

Alpha World Cities :

Beta World Cities +:

Beta World Cities:

Beta World Cities :

Gamma World Cities +:

Gamma World Cities:

Gamma World Cities :

Global Cities Index

In October 2008, the American journal Foreign Policy, in conjunction with consulting firm A.T. Kearney and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, published a ranking of global cities, based on consultation with Saskia Sassen, Witold Rybczynski, and others. Foreign Policy noted that "the world’s biggest, most interconnected cities help set global agendas, weather transnational dangers, and serve as the hubs of global integration. They are the engines of growth for their countries and the gateways to the resources of their regions."[30]

The rankings are based on the evaluation of 24 metrics in five areas: business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural experience, and political engagement. The top thirty of the 60 cities ranked were:

Rank City Best category (position in that category)
1 New York City Business Activity and Human Capital (1st)
2 London Cultural Experience (1st)
3 Paris Information Exchange (1st)
4 Tokyo Business Activity (2nd)
5 Hong Kong Business Activity and Human Capital (5th)
6 Los Angeles Human Capital (4th)
7 Singapore Business Activity (6th)
8 Chicago Human Capital (3rd)
9 Seoul Information Exchange (5th)
10 Toronto Cultural Experience (4th)
11 Washington, D.C. Political Engagement (1st)
12 Beijing Political Engagement (7th)
13 Brussels Information Exchange (2nd)
14 Madrid Information Exchange (9th)
15 San Francisco Human Capital (12th)
16 Sydney Human Capital (8th)
17 Berlin Cultural Experience (8th)
18 Vienna Political Engagement (9th)
19 Moscow Cultural Experience (6th)
20 Shanghai Business Activity (8th)
21 Frankfurt Business Activity (11th)
22 Bangkok Political Engagement (13th)
23 Amsterdam Business Activity (10th)
24 Stockholm Information Exchange (13th)
25 Mexico City Cultural Experience (9th)
26 Zürich Information Exchange (8th)
27 Dubai Information Exchange (14th)
28 Istanbul Political Engagement (8th)
29 Boston Human Capital (9th)
30 Rome Cultural Experience (15th)

Global Power City Index

The Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation in Tokyo, Japan issued a comprehensive study of global cities in October 2009. The ranking is based on six overall categories, "Economy," "Research & Development," "Cultural Interaction," "Livability," "Ecology & Natural Environment," and "Accessibility," with 69 individual indicators among them.[31] This Japanese ranking also breaks down top ten world cities ranked in subjective categories such as "manager, researcher, artist, visitor and resident."

Rank City Score Best category (position)
1 New York City 330.4 Economy (1.) Research & Development (1.)
2 London 322.3 Cultural Interaction (1.)
3 Paris 317.8 Livability (1.) Accessibility (1.)
4 Tokyo 305.6 Economy (2.) Research & Development (2.)
5 Singapore 274.4 Economy (5.) Cultural Interaction (5.)
6 Berlin 259.3 Livability (2.)
7 Vienna 255.1 Ecology & Natural Environment (3.)
8 Amsterdam 250.5 Accessibility (3.)
9 Zürich 242.5 Ecology & Natural Environment (2.)
10 Hong Kong 242.5 Economy (4.)
11 Madrid 242.5 Ecology & Natural Environment (7.) Accessibility (7.)
12 Seoul 242.1 Research & Development (4.)
13 Los Angeles 240.0 Research & Development (5.)
14 Sydney 237.3 Ecology & Natural Environment (9.)
15 Toronto 234.6 Livability (5.)
16 Frankfurt 232.9 Accessibility (5.)
17 Copenhagen 231.7 Economy (9.) Livability (9.)
18 Brussels 229.9 Livability (8.)
19 Geneva 229.7 Ecology & Natural Environment (1.)
20 Boston 226.2 Research & Development(6.)

Following positions and scores:

21. Shanghai (224.1), 22. Chicago (221.1), 23. Vancouver (219.1), 24. San Francisco (218.1), 25. Osaka (215.1), 26. Beijing (211.4), 27. Kuala Lumpur (204.1), 28. Milan (203.5), 29. Bangkok (199.1), 30. Fukuoka (196.5), 31. Taipei (195.9), 32. Moscow (179.5), 33. São Paulo (177.7), 34. Mumbai (165.5), 35. Cairo (132.2)

Cities ranked by category

Rank Population of city (proper) Population of metropolitan area[32] Percentage foreign born[33] Expatriate cost of living[9] Metro systems by annual passenger ridership Metro systems by the route length Annual airport traffic by passenger[34] Number of billionaires (U.S. dollars)[35] Gross Metropolitan Product at total PPPs[36]
1 Mumbai Tokyo Dubai Tokyo Tokyo London London New York City Tokyo
2 Shanghai Seoul Miami Osaka Moscow New York City New York City London New York City
3 Karachi Mexico City Amsterdam Moscow New York City Berlin Tokyo Moscow Los Angeles
4 Delhi New York City Toronto Geneva Seoul Madrid Atlanta Hong Kong Chicago
5 Istanbul Mumbai Muscat Hong Kong Mexico City Moscow Chicago Los Angeles Paris
6 São Paulo Jakarta Vancouver Zürich Paris Seoul Paris Dallas London
7 Moscow São Paulo Auckland Copenhagen Hong Kong Shanghai Los Angeles Istanbul Osaka
8 Seoul Delhi Geneva New York City London Paris Dallas San Francisco Mexico City
9 Beijing Osaka Mecca Beijing Osaka Beijing Frankfurt Chicago,
São Paulo,
10 Mexico City Shanghai The Hague Singapore São Paulo Tokyo Beijing n/a Washington, D.C.

See also


  1. ^ Sassen, Saskia - The global city: strategic site/new frontier
  2. ^ Sassen, Saskia - The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. (1991) - Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07063-6
  3. ^ a b c d e Doel,M. & Hubbard, P., (2002), "Taking World Cities Literally: Marketing the City in a Global Space of flows",City, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 351-368. Subscription required
  4. ^ a b GaWC Research Bulletin 5, GaWC, Loughborough University, 28 July 1999
  5. ^ Urban Characteristics,City Level, 1993PDF (61.6 KB), "World Resources 1998-99", WRI, 1998.
  6. ^ Global Urban Indicators Database 2 (1998 data) (data sets in .ZIP), UN-HABITAT
  7. ^ World Indices, Bloomberg
  8. ^ J.V. Beaverstock, World City Networks 'From Below', GaWC, Loughborough University, 29 September 2005
  9. ^ a b Mercer's 2008 Cost of living highlights, Mercer, 02 June 2009
  10. ^ The World's Billionaires, Forbes, 2008
  11. ^ Chapter 5: Globalization and cultural choicePDF (352 KB), "2004 Human Development Report" (page 99), UNDP, 2004
  12. ^ Chapter 9: Urban DataPDF (196 KB), "World Resources 1998-99", WRI, 1998
  13. ^ City Profiles, UN
  14. ^ Mobility 2001PDF (1.59 MB), WBCSD
  16. ^ World-wide quality of living survey, Mercer, 10 April 2006
  17. ^ The city development indexPDF, "THE STATE OF THE WORLD'S CITIES REPORT 2001", UN-HABITAT, 21 June 2006
  18. ^ P. De Groote, Economic and Tourism Aspects of the Olympic Games, GaWC, Loughborough University, 21 September 2005
  19. ^ [1]PDF (registration required)
  20. ^ K. O'Connor, International Students and Global Cities, GaWC, Loughborough University, 17 February 2005
  21. ^ World Heritage List, UNESCO
  22. ^ Estimated Ridership of the World’s Largest Public Transit Systems, 1998
  24. ^ Traffic Intensity by International Urban Area: 1990
  25. ^ Largest seaports of the world
  26. ^ Mapping the Global Network Economy on the Basis of Air Passenger Transport Flows, GaWC, Loughborough University, 8 December 2004
  27. ^ The World's Best Skylines
  28. ^ "The World According to GaWC 2008". Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). Loughborough University. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  29. ^ "The World According to GaWC 2008 - Graph". Globalization and World Cities Study Group and Network (GaWC). Loughborough University. Retrieved 2009-05-27. 
  30. ^ "The 2008 Global Cities Index". Foreign Policy (November/December 2008). October 21, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  31. ^ "Global Power City Index 2009". Tokyo, Japan: Institute for Urban Strategies at The Mori Memorial Foundation. October 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  32. ^ R.L. Forstall, R.P. Greene, and J.B. Pick, "Which are the largest? Why published populations for major world urban areas vary so greatly", City Futures Conference, (University of Illinois at Chicago, July 2004) – Table 5 (p.34)
  33. ^ international statisticsPDF (522 KB)
  34. ^
  35. ^ In Pictures: Top Billionaire Cities, Forbes, 3 June 2009
  36. ^ PriceWaterhouseCoopers, "UK Economic Outlook, March 2007", page 5. ""Table 1.2 – Top 30 urban agglomeration GDP rankings in 2005 and illustrative projections to 2020 (using UN definitions and population estimates)"" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-03-09. 

External links

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

The Global cities module is a stub. You can help Wikiversity by expanding it.

This course will teach you about global cities. It will look at a variety of global cities from a multitude of perspectives. Through the lens of urban planning and design we will examine different aspects of how the cities work. Aspects of the cities that will be examined through this lens are: transportation, land use, environmental factors, business environment, poverty and homelessness, water works, waste disposal, and livability.

Possible cities that will be examined are: Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, New Delhi, Bejing, Tokyo, Kobe, Johannesburg, Paris, London, Maui, and Kananga,

Please add to this course.


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