Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
The World Cities Culture Report came out today, and most of what you thought is true.
Singapore and Sydney lead the way in green space as a percentage of the city (47 percent and 46 percent, respectively).
Paris has over 33,000 musical performances every year, or 90 a day—33 times more music than in Sydney.
New York is the dance capital of the world, with 6,292 performances, twice as many as in second-place Paris (3,172).
If you hadn't guessed already, the results are in from the World Cities Culture Report 2012 [PDF], which was commissioned by London Mayor Boris Johnson, researched by BOP Consulting, and released Wednesday. A collaboration between 12 cities—Berlin, Istanbul, Johannesburg, London, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, and Tokyo—the report examines and catalogs the importance of culture in defining the world’s great cities. It combines a good deal of social and economic history into its narrative analysis, but we prefer the report's statistical findings—some elements of the friendly competition have been excerpted below.
There are some surprises, but mostly, reputations and stereotypes found solid statistical ground. New York is still the world’s melting pot, with the highest percentage of foreign-born residents, 36.8 percent. Paris is still dominant as a cultural center, as is London—four world heritage sites each, and over 20 million annual visitors at each city’s top five museums. East Asia loves its video games: Tokyo has 997 video game arcades and Shanghai 587, while New York has only 17 and Sydney a paltry ten. Brazilians love to dance—Sao Paulo has over 2,000 night clubs, while Tokyo has only 73.
Here’s a selection of winners (and some losers) from the 12 cities:
Eat, Drink, Dance
- Tokyo has an astonishing 150,510 restaurants—six times as many as New York. The Japanese capital has 1,144 restaurants for every 100,000 people—Istanbul and Mumbai have only 11.
- Tokyo has 14,184 bars: 108 bars per 100,000 people beats out second-place New York (88) and dwarfs third-place Berlin, with 36.
- On the other hand, Tokyo’s 73 night clubs are nothing compared to #1 dance city São Paulo (2,000), which is followed by Shanghai with 1,865. New York (584) and London (337) are well behind.
- Paris (830) and Shanghai (477) have the most public libraries, but Tokyo (112 million) and New York (68 million) lend the most books.
- Tokyo (1,675) and Shanghai (1,322) have the most bookstores, but Johannesburg has the most used and rare bookstores, with 943.
- Paris confirms its artsy reputation with over a thousand galleries (1,046), a couple hundred more than second-place London (857).
- Paris has 1,003 cinema screens, much more than its nearest competitor, London, which has 566. But Paris’ total number of cinema admissions—58 million every year—is not that much higher than the figure in Sao Paulo, 50 million. Our conclusion: movie theaters in Sao Paulo must be very crowded.
- New York is the undisputed capital of the theater world, with 43,004 performances. Berlin, though emerging as an arts destination, has only 6,900 theatrical performances. There are 28 million theater admissions in New York, twice as many as in second-place London (14m).
- There is a strong cultural split in the world of stand-up comedy. London, New York, and Paris all have over 10,000 comedy performances a year. Tokyo has 8,452. The other cities all have fewer than 600.
Top image: United Nations Photo/Flickr.