Closely associated with the process of globalisation is the notion of ‘World cities’. World cities are those such as London, New York and Tokyo where urban function has moved beyond the national scale to become a part of the international and global system. They are centres of culture, economics, employment, tourism, transport and communications and have been referred to as the command centres of the World’s borderless economy. Nature and Character of World Cities The nature of World cities is one of dominance and influence rather than just size.
They are powerful centres of economic and cultural authority within their region and on the global stage. They are at the top of a world hierarchy of cities that reaches down through international regional centres down to national cities and below. World cities are centres of political power. World cities contain the headquarters of many international government and non-government organisations such as the European Union (Brussels), the WHO and Red Cross (Geneva), United Nations (NY) and Greenpeace (Amsterdam). Major world decisions are taken in these locations.
London as a world city is home to over 400 IGO’s and NGO’s including the head office of Amnesty International. World centres are centres of the global economy and are where all-important financial decisions are made. The three dominant world cities in terms of the global financial market are New York, London and Tokyo. Los Angeles and Frankfurt also have a major importance for their regions. London is famous for its stock exchange; it has the world’s largest wholesale finance market, the largest foreign currency market and is home to many financial institutions. The largest banks in the world have their headquarters located in world cities.
For example: New York, Citigroup and Chase Manhattan; London, HSBC and Barclays and Tokyo, Bank of Tokyo, Mitsubishi and Dai-Ichi Bank. World cities are major centres for world trade. They contain the headquarters of many global organisations such as TNCs, which dominate world trade, that greatly influence the global economy and which operate across national borders. Typically today they are centres for technology, information and service based industries rather than manufacturing. London for example has the Headquarters of 118 of Europe’s top 500 and 64 of the Fortune 500, 75% of Fortune 500 companies have offices in London.
World cities are centres of media and communications for global networks. New York city is home to the world’s largest global media companies NewsCorp, and Time Warner. Sky TV is based in London and Fleet Street is home to some of the world’s most famous newspapers such as the Times and the Financial Times. World cities have major international transport connections linking them to the rest of the world. London’s Heathrow airport is the world’s busiest passenger airport with 86 airlines serving 90 countries.
Many world cities are also major international ports such as Tokyo and New York. World Cities are centres of cultural authority in areas such as sports, fashion and the arts. Paris, New York, Milan and London are famous centres of fashion. London is home to designers Stella McCartney Burberry and Alexander McQueen and has world-renowned shopping at Harrods and Bond Street. London and New York have the most prestigious theatre districts in the world (the West End and Broadway) and Los Angeles Cities is the home of the world dominant American film culture.
Paris is a world leader in cuisine and Tokyo has more Michelin starred restaurants than any other world city. London is a global mecca for sport being the home of football (Wembley), tennis Wimbledon) and rugby (Twickenham) and host of the 2012 Olympic games. World cities are characterised by a prestigious and distinctive lifestyle, which encourages international visitors. They are tourist meccas, are home to many different cultures and expatriate communities. London is the most visited city in the world by tourist numbers.
World cities have many historical, cultural and scenic activities for both tourists and expatriates. They provide the opportunity for people from all over the world to live, work and enjoy the vibrant city lifestyle. In character, therefore, world cities are multicultural, vibrant, innovative, trend setting and connected. Spatial distribution World cities may be divided into three groups – dominant, major and secondary world cities. The dominant cities are London, Paris, New York and Tokyo and they exercise the most influence over the global economy.
Major world cities, such as Zurich, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, link large national economies to the global system. Secondary world cities including Sydney, Milan and Chicago provide a link between their regions to the global economy. World cities are widely spread across the globe and across different time zones in order to connect national and regional economies into the global network. The majority of world cities are located in the northern hemisphere. Spatially, the largest concentration of world cities is in Western Europe, which is home to approximately 12 of them, including London, Rome and Berlin.
The USA is home to 8 world cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Houston. Asia has approximately 7, including Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. Only 4 are located in the southern hemisphere including Sydney and Buenos Aries and these are all classified as secondary world cities. The only world city in Africa is Johannesburg reflecting Africa’s marginalisation within the world economy. There are very few world cities are in developing countries as a world city is defined by their global function and links rather than simply the size of their populations.