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London is the world capital of the 21st century... says New York

By Tom Teodorczuk, Evening Standard, in New York Last updated at 10:27am on 21.03.07

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            Gherkin

Iconic: Norman Foster's Gherkin

An influential American magazine has named London the global capital of the 21st century.

The new issue of New York magazine is a homage to London, claiming the financial, cultural and culinary benefits now tower over those of its home city.

In the most glowing American media coverage of Britain since Vanity Fair's 1996 Cool Britannia issue, the article declares: "If Paris was the capital of the 19th century and New York of the 20th, London is shaping up to be the capital of the 21st century.

"It is not Britain and the US that have a special relationship, it is London and New York ... increasingly it seems as though London has the upper hand."

American writers Eugenia Bell and Matt Weiland add: "To Londoners now, there's a sense that the future belongs to them. It can sometimes seem as if there's nobody over 30 in the streets and that a great experiment in mass immigration and assimilation is under way."

The architectural skyline, including Norman Foster's Gherkin and the Shard of Glass, and thriving arts scene, particularly West End theatre and the Frieze Art Fair, all receive special praise. A report commissioned by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned Wall Street that the Square Mile was ahead when it came to job creation. He visited Britain last month and concluded: "London is gaining on us in area after area."

The magazine says: "In short, New York is cardiganed Woody Allen and London is party-dressed Lily Allen."


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Reader views (59)

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I think London personally because it is much more spaced out, New York is all skyscrapers which is appealing but I actually want to see a complete skyline when I look around, not from the Circle Line Ferries a mile out on the East River. 300,000 people work in finance everyday and that number is growing. You have cities inside a great big one, every borough in Central London has charm. With Heathrow, you can walk in and board a flight and in a few short hours end up in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Madrid, Dublin, Warsaw, with New York, if you go to JFK, in a few hours you will end up in Scranton, PA.

New York doesn't have the centrality London does. London is the capital of the world because it is in the right location and it is an English speaking city and English is the international language.

- Liam, Coleford, Gloucestershire

hmmm every country and city has its different qualities. the capital one can not be judged. i usually think of a capital city being the biggest city with the tallest building and the most populations, cars, trains etc. As far as i know (from a search using google) shanghai has 13,831,90 people living in it which is 2nd in worlds most dense populations. An indian city is top from the source im looking at. The tallest building in the world as far as i know is 'Burj Dubai' in Dubai. china is third with 'Guangzhou TV & Sightseeing Tower' shanghai is always top three in each categorie mentioned. so i would say shanghai is the capital city of the world. if you have never heard of shanghai you need to get out more and stop visiting English speaking countries lol. but i don't deny new york (even though i haven't been) is a fabulous city. London too in its own ways. i imagine some dubai cities must look very nice with all the oil they have. petrol or 'gas' is ment to be well cheap over there.

- Simon, maidstone, kent, uk

both cities to me shine in different aspects but london is the dullest out of the two. i've lived in north london for 16 years (i am 16) and been New York twice and it is clear which one is better. even though london is a 1st world city if you look beyond the fancy resturants, the accent, the fashion and glamour you'll see that this city is intoxicated with poverty and crime (not like new york is perfect but you can catch my drift).London doesnt deserve to be called "the city of the 21st century". Last year i went japan for 2 months with my cousin and we went to Tokyo i could swear i never wanted to leave, tokyo should be named city of the 21st century but then again im a naive 16 yr old.

- Jake, north london,essex road

I have lived in both London and New York over the past few years, and I have come to the definite conclusion that London is definitely the capital of the world, it makes New York look like the provincial capital of the Americas. London is so much more of an international city, there are so many more people going through that city from every corner of the globe every day. Sure New York has a lot of people from all over the world who migrate there, but then they just stay there for the rest of their lives and never leave, whereas London has a huge transient population of young people who spend a few months or few years in the city and then move on. Not to mention that tourism to London is significantly larger.

The United States and American society in general is way too close minded and ethnocentric to ever allow for one of its cities to be the capital of the entire world. The attitude of Britian and London is open-minded, liberal and tolerant, whereas New York still feels like its in the dark ages when it comes to progressive attitudes and is very much a social and cultural backwater.

You can be and do whatever you want in London, you can work in a minimum wage job and not be looked down upon, have a great time and really enjoy the city, and if you want to make huge amounts of money, then that's possible as well. But in New York you have no choice but to make as much money as you can or else you'll be living in the ghetto . . . so you better buy a gun !!!

- Jack, Newcastle UK

At the moment, NYC beats London in my book. About 80% of inner London is a shabby mess. The only bits of NYC like that are the worst parts of eastern Brooklyn. NYC has more life on the streets and is a much better choice if you are not super rich...London is hyper-expensive and seems geared to the needs of the wealthy.

- Tj, London

@Nicola:

That's because new York city isn't the capital of the US (heck, it's not even the capital of the state of New York).

- Nick, Las Vegas, USA

We looking at NYC and LDN, Buildings: london as historic buildings, new modern 21st centery buildings while NYC has tall skycrapers, (some ugly) some not, but has broadway which is great while londons equivalent is Piccadilly Circus which is poor. The people some American people a horriable and rude but some londoners are aswell but really london is better. Iv'e never seen a rat on the tube! unlike the NYC subway .

- Peter, Sydenham, London

As a young British man about to enter the 'real world' by leaving home etc I am desperate to live in New York. I just fell in love with it in a way I never have done with London, which is much more convienient for me as it's only 25 miles away. New York is much friendlier and feels much more open. I found the grid system so user-friendly and I just love the architecture and the culture and just....everything! Although London is great too it just doesn't feel like home in the way NYC does. I'll consider myself successful when I'm living in NYC and well on the way to achieving US citizenship. One thing, however, that London and the UK in general is much better at than the US could ever be is fashion. It's just so much sharper and edgier over here!

- Alex, Surrey, England

To the Sage:

When you ask whoever heard of Shanghai and laugh about it, you may provoke laughter, but it will most certainly be against you. How long exactly have you been living under a rock?

No, I'm not trying to argue that Shanghai is the "world capital of the 21st century" whatever that means. But I do think we should be criticise these nominations. This is clearly a competition within the anglo-saxon "world" comparing New York to London. Ethnocentrism anyone?

London is probably the most culturally diverse city in the world, Tokyo the largest, Shanghai the fastest growing and Dubai the most futuristic. We also keep hearing that cities like Vancouver, Geneva and Melbourne are the most livable so that's another aspect. But to give a city the title of "world capital of the 21st century"?

When the chamber of commerce in my own hometown Stockholm advertised the city with the slogan "the capital of Scandinavia" i found it embarrassing.

So how can anyone call any city "the world capital of the 21st century" and keep a straight face?

- Ziggy, Stockholm, Sweden

Shanghai just doesn't have the cultural or political influence that London, Paris or New York have. There's diversity in culture, world class theatrical productions and world renowned cuisine centered directly on these cities. Having been to both cities (and living in NYC for a bit) I have to say both are amazing for very different reasons.

I think for now, London is a little stronger than NYC, as global finance is moving towards the UK's capital right now, and as we all know, finance is the engine that runs the city.

Also, I believe the EU, home to 500 million citizens and constantly in hopes of expanding, exudes this diversity we never associated with Europe before. Over 150 languages are spoken within London's borders. Now that's impressive.

And not to say NYC isn't impressive either...it has qualities that are superior to London, for sure. That being said, both cities, London and New York, are AMAZING.

- Ryan Persaud, Chicago, USA

i have been to both places, and both are entirely different. London is up at the top with many things, culinary...it is regarded as the best in the world, culturally a toss up between paris, financially it is the best city, the west end, royal family,vast areas of parks and more open areas than NY. NY however is more fast paced, more lively, huge skyscrapers and broadway.
I believe London will come into its own beacuse of the EU, 500 million ppl...and i think london will dominate the economics of the area within 20 yrs. places like shanghai are too influenced by western architecture and culture and in my opinion dont mix well
London may not be the capital of the 21st century but maybe for the next few decades.

- Dan, leeds UK

You gotta be kidding me, London is a dump, and is full of crack heads, thieves, hippies, and other social scum. The place should be knocked down and rebuilt.

- Guy Stevens, brighton, england

I agree London is capital of world, big up for London.

- Mr London, London

It is the true, London is the New Capital of the World.

- Marcel Galaburri, Harrow-on-the-hill, London

London is the talking point in Brazil. It seems to be on the news most evenings here. Everyone wants to know about what is going on. Few people talk about New York. Every time I go to London (about twice a year) it gets ever better and, recently, a lot cleaner. I can't wait to go again.

- Patrick Humphreys, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Hold on a minute — the Shard looks impressive enough on paper, but it isn't even built yet! All the same, I have to admit the city did look spectacular and exciting in the early morning sunshine today, and not just because the Polish builder in my carriage had dungarees on a size too small!

- Karli, Tottenham, London

As a resident of Shanghai, I must laugh at those charming little airheads touting this city as some kind of world "capital".

I have been to New York and come back feeling like a bumpkin. New York has the world's top restaurants, and London's cuisine overall doesn't come close. New York's music scene still reigns supreme, especially in sophisticated jazz.

Please stop it with the Shanghai talk, you are very much making me laugh. New York is the world's capital, period.

- Hong Fung, Shanghai

My late husband and I spent our honeymoon in London and had a memorable stay there. We always wanted to go back, but his untimely death cancelled those plans. New York is fabulous but I till remain a confirmed Anglophile and would love to return!

- Nancy, Houston, TX, USA

London and NYC are wonderful cities!

- Fred, Atlanta, Ga

Well at least you can still smoke in pubs in London (until July 1st at any rate). NYC started the smoke ban trend and its spreading like wildfire. Shanghai's starting to look good and as far as world cities go, I think Tokyo is a strong candidate as well.

- Jason, London

London and New York are both nice but to claim that they are world capitals is myopic. Majority of the world’s population lives in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Dubai should be the world capital. It is the hub leading us into the future - economic prosperity coupled with virtually every race, religion and culture. It truly represents the world unlike any other city.

- Tim K, Dubai

I just returned from London last week and could not be more complimentary of it. The city sparkled - like they had just cleaned it. The people were friendly, stylish, and from many cultures. The architecture was fabulous - both modern and historic. The energy of the city itself cannot be beat. It feels alive. I'd pick it over the Big Apple, where people are too often rude, arrogant and always in a hurry, in a New York minute.

- Mike, Dallas, TX

I agree with Steve. Detroit remains the greatest city of modern times. I miss its sheer beauty.

- Dana Brown, San Diego, CA

Why would anyone want to live in a large city? Cities are so ugly! I would much rather live in the countryside. I agree with the contributor that said Europe is dying.

- Kevin Dorsey, Alaska USA

We just got back after spending the first two weeks of March in London. It is a fantastic city. If I had enough money, I would move there in a New York second!

- Steve, St. George, USA

London is a wonderful city and the honor is well deserved.

- Jeff, Cincinnati, USA

I'm from the Detroit area and you'd be hard pressed to find a more dynamic city, with the Motown museum, the new GM headquarters and Joe Louis Arena Detroit is clearly the world leader as far as cities go.

- Steve Richter, Detroit, MI

Don't get too excited, here, you Brits. You must remember that the current fad amongst "enlightened" liberals in the US is to lambast everything American in favor of anything non-American. You see, according to their logic, their ability to "see" that America is evil, wrong, and worst at everything shows how "open-minded" and "universalist" they are. There can be nothing more vulgar to them than to be a dim-witted, uncultured "patriot." London may or may not be the "capital of the world in the 21st century", whatever that means, however, intepreting the cited article as New York's concession to London is a bit like interpreting David Beckham's defection to a US soccer team as America's arrival as the world capital of soccer.

- Rich, Indianapolis, USA

I love London but the foul language on the street spoils it - it seems that most people using public transport can't put a sentence together without using the F word. People are much more polite in New York and generally more fun, when they hear my English accent they are so complimentary! I feel safe in both cities during the day, but then, I walk quickly! Different story at night - NY has the edge simply because it is much better lit. Variety of Theatre is better in London by far but at twice the price. Spending money is much more fun in NY and it really is the city that never sleeps. So, I'll take Manhattan.

- Felina, London UK

Absurd. Shanghai is the world capital of the 21st Century - no city is even close. London is having a little revival, that's all. England had it's day...

- The Truth, Los Angeles, CA

Comparing London and New York is like comparing a Ferrari to a Yacht. It depends on what your needs are. Truth be told, London is rising due to two forces. Europe is dying and the talent and resources will continue to concentrate in the most desirable places. Secondly, the rise of the EU and in particular the Euro have created a pole opposite the US dollar. To boot, Sarbanes-Oxley has greatly accelerated the rise of the Euro.

- Erica, Giilbert, AZ

I'll have to agree with the resident of Shanghai. Other western cities pale in comparison to Shanghai.

- Taijiguy, Newington, USA

World capital? What does that mean? Capitals are generally the center of policy and leadership. Paris, New York and London fits this bill how? And for the entire century. What will the rest of the world do as we look to the world's capital for the next century. Surely London will provide policy and leadership for the entire world. What a story. My place is better than your place.

- Howard, Fayetteville, NC

London is nice, but New York will continue to be the world's true capital city.

Whoever heard of Shanghai? Ha ha, good one! Next you'll be telling us that Ho Chi Minh City is the world's "real" cosmopolis.

- The Sage, Citizen of the World

I'm an American living in London and do love several aspects of it. However, as a single woman having lived in both NYC and LA, I would say I feel the LEAST safe in London. There is no police presence anywhere and one can commit murder and merely get a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, it's also illegal for me to carry mace to protect myself...

- Sandra, London

Congrats London! I want to visit in the coming year and take in all your city has to offer.

- Anthony, Philadelphia US

More Western-biased drivel. If you want a real city... try Shanghai.

- Marc Tessier, Shanghai, China

Oh yes, my home for four years! Perhaps I'll hit the lottery and have a home in both since I can't make up my mind on which I should call home!!

- Yvonne, NY, USA

London is safer, cleaner, and has much better infrastructure. Too bad the Pound makes it twice as expensive.

- Matt, Washington, DC, USA

Hmm... Lily Allen vs. Woody, really? I will take Woody any day. Isn't that kind of an insult to London? Vapid pop star vs. art genius?

- Mike, Gainesville, Florida, USA

I highly prefer London to New York. Both cities are busy, dirty, and crowded. Both have good and bad people... but London has won my heart. Maybe it's the English accent? Or perhaps the fact I can take a train to Paris...? It just feel so much more cosmopolitan than New York.

- Theresa Hilsdon, Washington, DC

I'm from the New York area, born and raised in NJ... I will always love New York City. But after living a year in Chicago, I don't think I ever want to leave. It's beautiful, fun, and very affordable. The only negatives are the cold, windy winters and the challenge of finding really good restaurants. The summers, on the other hand, are full of art, music, festivals, and events that take full advantage of the gorgeous Lakefront of Lake Michigan, which seems like an ocean from the City's vantage point. The only other cities I've visited and really enjoyed are Montreal, Boston, and Toronto. In my opinion, Chicago has all of their best qualities... with the downtown feel of New York.

- Vikrant Lal, Chicago, IL

I studied in London for three months in fall 2005 and absolutely fell in love with the city. I'll go back and visit the first chance I get (which may be a while since I'm still a poor college student and have no idea what I'm doing after I graduate in two months). Anyway, I'm not surprised that London is considered the world capital of this century. Congrats to the city I left behind.

- Kristen, Virginia, USA

Congratulations to London, the world capital; from New York City, the capital of the universe!

- Michael, NewYork City

Yeah Fletcher, beacuse Canada has so much to offer... I would say we should invade you, but I don't really think it's worth it. Eh?

- Mike, NY, USA

Having lived in both cities, I'd say that they're about equal in terms of appeal, with one glaring difference. The cost of living in London is staggering relative to NY, with no wage differential. A very basic example is your cup of morning coffee, which can easily be bought from a sidewalk vendor in NY for the equivalent of 35p.

- Michael, CR5

London is probably the most exciting place I have ever visted in my life. I love the characters, the sophistication, the culture, the music, the fashion... the list goes on for a mile.

What makes London so unique is the idelible charm missing from most American cities. I would love to live their for a few years and just aborb the ambiance of this great town.

- Tim Nolan, Milwaukee, WI USA

As much as I've grown to like London after having lived in New York, I do still notice how London 'shuts down' around midnight (with the exception of a set of clubs that require careful planning to get into) whereas New York keeps going 24/7. Mainly for this reason, I don't think London comes anywhere near New York in terms of convenience and lifestyle.

- Frank, London, UK

I lived in London for three years. It's my favorite city in the world by far. But I have to say that the really bad weather almost trumps all of London's accomplishments and attractions. I like living in California, even with all of the annoying people that live here when compared to cultured places like London.

- David, Sacramento, CA, USA

Both cities suck. Too busy, dirty and noisy. Too many people, and too many idiots.

- Fletcher, Canada

Honestly, does anyone truly care? For the people in New York, and I suspect London as well, the world revolves around them. To think that these "conclusions" have any meaning and are given serious consideration, is about as silly as the fawning coverage of celebrities and the British royal family.

- Dan May, Columbia, MD, USA

London is the best city in the world... but only on $1000.00 a day!

- Bruce, Italy & USA

London is definitely an exciting place to be at the moment. It is very vibrant with so much to offer in terms of entertainment, theatres, concerts, restaurants, museums, art galleries. I never tire of it and love the view of Big Ben, St Paul's, Tower Bridge, Harrods all lit up at night. We also have some splendid parks and gardens. Dr Johnson was right, he said 'When a man is tired of London he is tired of life'.

- Julian Pitcairn, Walton-on-Thames

Having lived in both (being born in London and soon to be moving to New York permanently), I have to say there are endearing qualities about both cities that make them both appealing in their own rights. New York has an amazing night life which goes on until the next morning (6-7am) which you don't find in London. But, London pubs far beat those of the 'Irish' pubs you so frequently comes across in which you just get hassled because staff are looking for tips. They also copy the look of bars, which loses their appeal. New York is absolutely filthy even though it was cleaned a few years back, and London is remarkably clean despite what we Londoners may think. Food is also amazing in New York. The subway runs all night in New York and is something we should have - transport is also a hell of a lot cheaper and a monthly pass takes you further. These are just some of the differences. I love both cities and am happy to remain indifferent to making a choice because they both have a lot to offer in their own ways. Long live both cities!

- Queen Beena, Wembley

London is great, but only in parts. If you cherry-pick your destinations and only stick to seeing the best we have to offer then it is undeniably the best city in the world, but in reality you have to look at the bad too. On balance I would say that there are a great many Citys in the world who rank higher than London when it comes to quality of life, not to mention value for money, for its inhabitants.

- Moo, Stoke Newington

Did they mention crime rates, I'd be curious as to the statistics comparing the two per head of capita.

- Trevor Roll, London

Both are very diverse and great cities in their own right. But I don't think that you can compare either, they have very different endearing qualities. But for me, if I had to choose, I'd pick London any day.

- Callum, SE London

I'm glad London is finally receiving the recognition it deserves. If we're constantly told what a terrible city we are then we start to believe it but I think we need to be a more positive and appreciate just how great our capital city is.

- Sally, NW1

I find it hard to believe that London can beat New York as the capital city of the 21st century. In my opinion London has gone down hill and is no longer a pleasant or safe city to live in. I personally would jump at the chance to move to New York away from London!

- Nicola, Tufnell Park


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