The Urban Elite

wpid-UrbanElite-2011-11-21-10-452.jpgSource: National Geographic 2011 iPad Version

The 21st century is the era of cities, the metropolises where more than half the earth’s people live, where its business is done, where some of its most complex services are developed and ideas generated. But all cities are not created equal, and all cities do not grow to equal stature. Some are big but impoverished in both brains and money. Some once stood on the economic heights but today languish further down the slopes, their glory days behind them. Some are the cities of the future, but not quite yet.

wpid-100812_newyork.globalcities.001_1-2011-11-21-10-452.jpgNew York City (foreignpolicy.com)

Then there are global cities. These are the ports of the global age, the places that both run the global economy and influence its direction. The cities where decisions are made, where the world’s movers and shakers come to exchange the latest news and information. They are places that boast both old-fashioned power and new-fashioned flair. They are where you go to do business, yes, but also to see the greatest art, hear the greatest orchestras, learn the latest styles, eat the best food and study in the finest universities. They have global corporations—this goes without saying. But they also have think tanks, jazz bars and broadband. In a word, they have clout.

wpid-100812_london2.globalcities002-2011-11-21-10-452.jpgLondon (foreignpolicy.com)

In this sense, the world is not flat. Instead, it is a landscape of peaks and valleys, and global cities are the peaks. Often they soar above the hinterland around them, having more to do with each other than with their own countrymen in the valleys below. From their summits, global citizens talk to each other and do the world’s business.

wpid-100812_tokyo.globalcities.003-2011-11-21-10-452.jpgTokyo (foreignpolicy.com)

To be a global city, then, is to belong to the urban elite. Global cities are not always the most beautiful or the most pleasant. Almost by definition, they are busy, crowded, noisy, even frantic. But they are crowded with those who are creating the future, noisy with the clash of deals and ideas, frantic in the race to stay ahead. They have money and power. They know where the world is going because they’re already there. To be a global city is, in this sense, a splendid thing.

wpid-100812_paris.globalcities.004-2011-11-21-10-452.jpgParis (foreignpolicy.com)

A.T. Kearney, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Foreign Policy magazine have drawn up their list of global cities, ranking the top 65 with a claim to that status. Because the stakes are high, the list invites dispute. Others may argue the rankings. But we think the criteria stand up to any argument. The list is a snapshot of the ever changing landscape of globalisation.

Read the full report at: http://www.atkearney.com/images/global/pdf/Urban_Elite-GCI_2010.pdf

Photos from: Metropolis Now — Images of the World’s Top Global Cities

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