“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
― Samuel Johnson
One hundred and fifty years ago, the answer was indisputably LONDON. Fifty years ago, the answer was indisputably New York.
It’s One Of The World’s Financial Capitals
But this is totally unfair to London: The volume of equities trading done on the London Stock Exchange doesn’t capture at all equities trading done in any one place — just the ones local to that economy. So of course London’s stock exchange is smaller than New York’s: the UK’s economy is much smaller than that of the US. But we’re comparing the cities here, not the countries.
Everyone Wants To Work In London
When the Boston Consulting Group polled more than 200,000 people in 189 countries, London trounced the rest of the world when it came to where they would move to work. Unprompted, 16% of respondents said they would move to the city, well clear of New York’s 12.2%.
That’s not entirely surprising when you look at London’s demographic makeup. Three million of London’s 8 million inhabitants were born outside of the UK. In fact, the non-UK born population makes up 105% of the city’s population growth between the 2001 and 2011 censuses. (Why 105%? Because native Brits left, causing negative growth, and the expats more than eclipsed that.)
What’s more, the eurozone’s dismal growth prospects and eye-watering rates in youth unemployment mean this trend probably isn’t going to slow anytime soon.
The number of people moving to the UK from the rest of Europe has increased significantly. In 2007-2008, 15,400 Italians registered to work in the UK, a figure that was up to 44,110 by 2013. Europe’s young workforce is increasingly migrating to the UK (where its workers don’t need visas to live and work), and a huge number seek out London. One of the most well-educated generations in history is streaming to London to live and work, and that’s an enormous benefit to the city.
And Everyone Wants To Live Here, Too
THE COST OF BUYING AND RENTING IS SOMETHING THAT MAKES LONDONERS WANT TO WEEP, BUT IT’S A SIDE EFFECT OF THE CITY’S INCREDIBLE SUCCESS.
It’s The Capital Of Digital Media
The two biggest English-language newspaper websites in the world are London-based British organisations. The Daily Mail’s Mail Online and The Guardian’s website have broken into first and second place, according to ComScore’s traffic figures. That’s even accounting for the fact that New York-based newspapers have a far bigger native American audience than London-based newspapers can find in the UK.
And The Capital Of Culture
According to Japan’s Institute for Urban Strategies, London takes a commanding lead over New York (and every other major city) on cultural grounds. That is based on a blend of cultural resources, facilities for visitors, and how trendsetting the city is.
Part of this stems from a history that New York simply can’t match: in the 19th century, it became only the second city since the fall of the Roman Empire to reach a population of over one million. Attractions like Westminster Hall (the great hall of the UK’s parliament) are almost twice as old as European colonization in the Americas, and four times older than the US as a country.
London has four UN world heritage sites, against New York’s one.
It’s not just British culture that is on offer. In GfK’s survey of more than 5,000 people who visited some of the world’s biggest cities, London ranks highest when visitors are asked whether they can “find people who appreciate my culture and with whom I could easily fit in.”
So, sorry, New York. Sorry Seoul. Sorry Paris. Sorry Shanghai. Sorry Singapore. Sorry Hong Kong. Sorry everyone… For now, LONDON IS THE WORLD’S GLOBAL CAPITAL.
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