Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Alpha cities

People like to choose and join teams. There are many examples. Nationalisms and regionalisms are just two of many. Among the latter, there are city vs country-cousin rivalries which probably exist in most cultures -- with each side claiming peculiar wisdom by which assert their superiority over their rivals. There are also the peculiar distinctions between any country's "alpha city" vs the rest of that country's folk.

Think New Yorkers vs the rest of America. Each side is pretty sure of its own superiority and the awfulness of the other side. I imagine that the same holds for Londoners vs all other Brits, Parisians vs the rest of France, Shanghaiers vs the rest of China, Muscovites vs all other Russians, etc.

This Alpha list is one man's opinion and is not quite right because he lists more than just one city for some countries. The U.S., for example, has many cities where one can find interesting things to do. But in how many of them can the general tourist spend more than two or three days and nights?  Let's be honest, for the U.S., New York (where I do not live and where I was not born) is special. One can spend weeks (or more there) and not be bored.  I suppose the same distinction applies to Paris, London, Tokyo, Berlin, etc.

Urban economists celebrate agglomeration economies. Nothing succeeds like success. There are agglomeration economies (net positive externalities realized via proptitious location) in all cities. But the non-linearities are breathtaking.  The outsized presence of the arts, intellectual variety, fine food, great architecture, etc. in New York stands out. In other words, the real alpha city in each country outdraws the rest by leaps and bounds.