Flickr/LandAid

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

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a closed street in St. Louis
    Equity

    The Curious Tale of the St. Louis Street Barriers

    Thanks to an '80s mania for traffic calming, the St. Louis grid is broken by hundreds of bollards and cul-de-sacs. Critics say it’s time to get rid of them.

  2. A young girl winces from the sting as she receives the polio vaccine in 1954.
    Life

    How Mandatory Vaccination Fueled the Anti-Vaxxer Movement

    To better understand the controversy over New York’s measles outbreak, you have to go back to the late 19th century.

  3. Design

    A New Plan to Correct a Historic Mistake in Pittsburgh

    A Bjarke Ingels Group-led plan from 2015 has given way to a more “practical” design for the Lower Hill District. Concerns over true affordable housing remain.

  4. A photo of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris.
    Design

    Amid Notre-Dame’s Destruction, There’s Hope for Restoration

    Flames consumed the roof and spire of the 13th-century cathedral in Paris. The good news: Gothic architecture is built to handle this kind of disaster.

  5. Life

    How to Inspire Girls to Become Carpenters and Electricians

    Male-dominated trades like construction, plumbing, and welding can offer job security and decent pay. A camp aims to show girls these careers are for them, too.