Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a distinguished fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
Two great global cities went head-to-head in a battle of words over which one is the best.
In a fun bit of bragging rights writ large, London and New York City took part in a good-humored debate last week about their respective merits. Mayor of London Boris Johnson and New York City Deputy Mayors Howard Wolfson and Robert K. Steel met in London’s City Hall in a debate hosted by LandAid. In the "Battle of the Giants," as the event was dubbed, each city came armed with a long list of facts.
A brief look at how the arguments broke down:
In terms of subway trips, New York has London beat: 1.5 billion to 1 billion annually. New York also has cheaper office space, and bragged about diversifying its job sectors into healthcare, high-tech, and applied sciences.
London, meanwhile, edges out New York in terms of financial service employees: 325,000 to 319,000. And Johnson played up the way his city encourages young talent and creativity.
So which city came out on top?
Thanks no doubt in part to home-field advantage, Johnson debated his way to the title of "best city in the world," thanks to an ultra-democratic show-of-hands-vote in the London mayor’s favor.
A quick look at the numbers shows the two cities are in reality pretty evenly matched. London has a slight edge as the world's leading financial center, ranking first to New York's second. New York's greater metro area is substantially larger, with roughly 22 million people to London's 14 million. And New York is economically more powerful, ranking second only to Tokyo, with London third, in the Economic Power Index I published here last fall.
But despite their considerable strengths, both cities face stiff competition. Recent years have seen a host of cities—especially in Asia, from Hong Kong and Tokyo to Singapore, Shanghai, and Seoul—grow both in size and economic clout. Overall, 90 percent of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies are located outside of North America and Western Europe.
To stay relevant, the two cities might want to add their competitors to the "greatest city" debate. These up-and-coming great global cities have a lot to tout. No use giving them the Ron Paul treatment.
Top Image: LandAid/Flickr