As a Londoner, I am familiar with the way the spotlight falls, goes away, then falls again. London is cyclically brilliant.
It was brilliant, of course, in the swinging Sixties (I actually worked on Carnaby Street, but hey, that was in the Seventies -- the late Seventies.) It was brilliant again in the boom years of the Nineties -- all champagne and Britpop. Now, after another detour through the periodic doldrums of recession and riot, it's brilliant again. So says PricewaterhouseCoopers, the professional services giant.
For the first time, London hit the number one spot in PwC US's six year-old Cities of Opportunity top thirty. Asking what makes thirty major cities -- centers of finance, commerce, and culture -- function best, PwC US focused on three broad areas:
London held a clear lead over New York, the second-place city (last year it had finished just behind New York). But it wasn't the leader in every individual indicator studied. London was the number one "city gateway," open to the rest of the world, and number one for "economic clout." It tied with Seoul for technological readiness, was just shaded by Paris for "intellectual capital and innovation," and lagged several places behind Singapore for transportation and infrastructure.
Stockholm led the pack in health and security, and tied with Sydney -- the most "liveable" city -- on sustainability and the natural environment. New York didn't lead a single category, but scored second place with a strong showing in all of them.
Of course, London remains a very expensive place to live, which brings some significant downsides. The report quotes urban journalist Suketu Mehta:
It doesn't matter how welcoming the city is if you can't find an apartment there for a reasonable price, because you won't be part of the city at all. That's dangerous to the city's well-being. You need the great middle class -- good people who will keep faith in the city during a downturn.
I find there's often a discrepancy between reasoned reports like this one, and the actual feel of a city. What's the mood like in London today? Does it feel economically powerful, open to all comers, and poised for technological dominance? Is it truly brilliant? Or are there still foggy days?
Let us know on the message board below.
(The full report, or highlights, can be downloaded here.)
London. I work in London, most days anyway and have lived here for years after years in NYC. As a capital city of a rather small country it has always seemed a little misplaced to me. By this I mean that it is way too big and influential to be in such a small country. This is the legacy of Empire more or less and it shows everywhere you look. However it has a downside in that, like a great planet vacuums up the smaller ones in it's orbit, so London projects a massive gravitational force onto the rest of the country (and indeed nearby EU countries) and sucks out the best and brightest talents, or at least so it seems. This is a good thing for London, in many ways, but perhaps not so good for it's people and the rest of the country.
Re: big fan of London but... Amy, your so right, but some people have decided that a 4 hour journey twice a week with a very short journey the other days is better than a 2 hour round trip every day. I agree with you that a short journey every day is the best option particularly with family commitments. The ability to get home in 10-20 mins, preferably not relying on any form of transport except yourself is the very best solution. Sadly it's becoming less and less easy as cities get bigger and central area home prices become more unaffordable.
Re: London's Billionaire Givers When 85 people own as much wealth as 50% of the world's population it is not surprising that they have no idea what to spend it on. They can still only eat three meals a day and live in one place at a time. They have the same objects and gadgets as us and there's a limit to how many diamonds you can encrust a vacuum cleaner with, so at some point saving tax and giving money to others must seem worthwhile. What is unfortunate is that the money is distributed on a whim and does not necessarily suit the most worthy or useful cause. The reduction in the polarisation of wealth is a great challenge for the next generation.
Re: Rich list Kim, The Millenium Dome is now the O2 Centre (renamed after the mobile phone company which purchased the building). It is considered an integral part of London's cultural infrastructure. It thrives as a significant venue for music and entertainment events; Monty Python's Flying Circus is about to start a revival performance there! The building is and always was a great building .... the failure was the inability to fill it with anything of interest or significance in 2000.
The worst part of the existing use is a clunky walkway and platform added to allow visitors to pay for the dubious pleasure of walking over the structure, similar to Sydney Harbour Bridge but without the integrated access......just an ugly add-on, but hey who cares as long as it makes money!
Re: big fan of London but... But hasn't this same Island of Unaffordablity scenario played out in other cities as well? Manhattan, talking to you. It's stratopspherically expensive, particularly if you want to own. And you'll be competing with all-cash offers from rich Euros and newly flush Chinese billionaires looking to grab their own piece of the NY skyline.
Re: big fan of London but... Quality of life takes such a beatdown with those long commutes, doesn't it, Susan! Especially people with small kids who have to fly twice a week just to come home. Man o man, I could NOT deal. Before I was a parent I traveled for business just once a month or so, and it was JUST enough. I don't know how road warriors travel for work nonstop, and I don't know those with 1, 2, 3-hour drives do it each way, each day. Your brain, your body, your soul would be so depleted.
Re: big fan of London but... Absolutely fascinating, these WILLIEs of which you speak, sunshine.
Is teleworking not seen as a viable alternative in Europe? It sounds like your Marseilles friends are in some kind of minority. I know federal employees here in DC whose bosses are stuck in the old "must-be-present-to-be-productive" paradigm, and I know other people who work for smaller newer companies that are entirely virtual, and no one commutes.
Re: big fan of London but... @Kim, actually, I was surprised too to hear how high the cost of Rio's housing was. General cost of living in Rio is on a par with Barcelona, but according to Numbeo.com (and I don't know how accurate its numbers are), the after-tax salaries in Barcelona are twice that of Rio, but renting cost 41 percent less.
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