New York – greater than London?

Posted on April 19, 2012

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Those of you who know me well know I’m not a big nationalist (OK, except in sporting matters) but I have always been a big fan of London.

I’m also a passionate reader of The Atlantic Cities and also a fan of its editor, Richard Florida (@Richard_Florida) – actually since I read his book Who’s Your City three or four years back. His team publish a lot about city league tables globally, usually based on others’ data – which is greenest, which has the best architecture, the high-speed development of Asia and so on.

So recently the following chart really caught my eye, from this article:

I’ve been looking at this for a little while over the last week or so, because there’s a lot to take in.

There are stories in here such as the rise of Asian conurbations, the multiple places in the list taken by US, Chinese and Indian cities and the changes since 2010 and 2008, when AT Kearney also did the study. But I keep coming back to the New York v London comparison.

I get how London, despite a slight edge in finance, loses out to NYC in business generally (also Tokyo, Hong Kong and Paris (Paris?) – larger populations are at play and some even with manufacturing as part of their make-up. The novelty.

I also get how London trounces just about everyone in the field in the ‘Cultural experience’ category. In theory that’s one reason why I live where I do.

What I don’t get is London trailing NYC in ‘Political engagement’. I take this to be about the concentration of political decision-making rather than how much a populous partakes in the democratic process. (Surely we’d both suck on that count?)

My only conclusion is that it’s because the UN is HQed in NYC. Otherwise you’d have to consider a national seat of government more important than most cities’ regional/metropolitan claims. Paris’ score on this one seems to make the case for London; Brussels’ ranking implies the UN theory might have legs. And I’m doubtless forgetting other important political institutions in NYC. But then I probably am for London too.

Follow Tony on Twitter – @tphallett

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Posted in: Hyperlocal