What about Los Angeles?

Admit LA to the alpha-city club

“North Atlantic prejudice has denied Los Angeles the global status it deserves.” (my emphasis)


The answer to this Financial Times (FT) op-ed piece is really very simple. The mistake from the journalist is when he says: “The notion of a global or “alpha” city is vague…”. No, it isn’t vague at all and, of course, has nothing to do with the extraordinary claim of ‘prejudice’! The global city and ‘alpha city’ have a very precise definition as international financial centres (IFCs) and as corporate service complexes. The lesser role L.A. plays in those economic sectors on a North American and global basis in comparison to New York and London is why it is ranked lower than them. Paradoxically, if you want to adopt a broader or different definition of a global city beyond banking, international finance and corporate service functions then L.A. would of course be ‘up there’ as a ‘global destination’ and center of entertainment but the definition of a global or alpha city would be very different and potentially so vague that it would be meaningless.

To fully understand why this is an all too common error (and to understand several other errors) see my 2013 research paper:

Smith RG (2013) “The ordinary city trap”, Environment and Planning A, 45 (10), October, 2290–2304

The Ordinary City Trap


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