National Geographic : 2011 Dec
NOW The Most In uential Cities "New York City, the incomparable, the brilliant star city of cities." So wrote author John Gunther in one of the many odes to the much loved---and maligned---metropolis. But what exactly gives the city its spark? According to one measure of urban power, the alignment of five major forces puts the Big Apple atop all others. With over half the world's population now residing in urban areas, cities drive global dynamics more than ever, says Samantha King of A. T. Kearney. The management consultancy launched the Global Cities Index, a gauge of urban influence, in 2008 and issued an update in 2010. "The list at this stage is fairly intuitive," says King, though she expects certain trends to show their impact over the next decade. These include the financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ability of cities like Singapore and Chicago to adapt their industry focus over time. Beijing and Shanghai exhibit rapid growth but not yet the infrastructure of other large cities, says King. Livability isn't a factor. Although most cities enjoy strengths in specific areas, the four that lead the rankings shine across all dimensions. Business, culture, politics, infor- mation, and human capital all thrive in New York, London, Tokyo, and Paris. The fusion of these elements generates a vitality that in turn attracts more of the same. Brilliant stars indeed. ---Luna Shyr 7 SEVEN BILLION 10 SeoulSOUTH KOREA 11 Brussels BELGIUM 12 San Francisco U.S. 13 Washington, D.C. U.S. 14 Toronto CANADA 15 Beijing CHINA Names are colored to reflect each city's dominant attribute. Beijing's is business activity.