May 20, 2006

Cities of the Anglosphere

In honor of the recently-deceased Jane Jacobs (who throughout her life championed the role of cities in the creation of wealth), I thought I would catalogue the Anglosphere's largest cities (to be precise, metropolitan areas with over 2 million people in population according to the most recent estimates):

  1. New York, USA (~18.7)
  2. Los Angeles, USA (~16.7)
  3. Chicago, USA (~9.3)
  4. London, UK (~7.6)
  5. San Francisco, USA (~5.8)
  6. Philadelphia, USA (~5.8)
  7. Dallas, USA (~5.7)
  8. Miami, USA (~5.4)
  9. Toronto, Canada (~5.3)
  10. Houston, USA (~5.2)
  11. Washington, USA (~5.2)
  12. Atlanta, USA (~4.7)
  13. Detroit, USA (~4.5)
  14. Boston, USA (~4.4)
  15. Sydney, Australia (~4.4)
  16. Melbourne, Australia (~3.6)
  17. Phoenix, USA (~3.4)
  18. Seattle, USA (~3.2)
  19. Minneapolis, USA (~3.1)
  20. San Diego, USA (~2.9)
  21. St. Louis, USA (~2.7)
  22. Baltimore, USA (~2.6)
  23. Tampa, USA (~2.6)
  24. Manchester, UK (~2.5)
  25. Pittsburgh, USA (~2.4)
  26. Denver, USA (~2.3)
  27. Birmingham, UK (~2.3)
  28. Vancouver, Canada (~2.2)
  29. Cleveland, USA (~2.1)
  30. Portland, USA (~2.0)
  31. Cincinatti, USA (~2.0)
  32. Sacramento, USA (~2.0)
  33. Kansas City, USA (~2.0)

(Updated to include Manchester and Birmingham.)

Posted by Peter Saint-Andre at May 20, 2006 10:08 PM

What would Kipling have done with that list?

Here is his Song of the Cities, from over a century ago.

The Song of the Cities


Royal and Dower-royal, I the Queen
Fronting thy richest sea with richer hands --
A thousand mills roar through me where I glean
All races from all lands.


Me the Sea-captain loved, the River built,
Wealth sought and Kings adventured life to hold.
Hail, England! I am Asia -- Power on silt,
Death in my hands, but Gold!


Clive kissed me on the mouth and eyes and brow,
Wonderful kisses, so that I became
Crowned above Queens -- a withered beldame now,
Brooding on ancient fame.


Hail, Mother! Do they call me rich in trade?
Little care I, but hear the shorn priest drone,
And watch my silk-clad lovers, man by maid,
Laugh 'neath my Shwe Dagon.


Hail, Mother! East and West must seek my aid
Ere the spent gear may dare the ports afar.
The second doorway of the wide world's trade
Is mine to loose or bar.


Hail, Mother! Hold me fast; my Praya sleeps
Under innumerable keels to-day.
Yet guard (and landward), or to-morrow sweeps
Thy war-ships down the bay!


Into the mist my guardian prows put forth,
Behind the mist my virgin ramparts lie,
The Warden of the Honour of the North,
Sleepless and veiled am I!


Peace is our portion. Yet a whisper rose,
Foolish and causeless, half in jest, half hate.
Now wake we and remember mighty blows,
And, fearing no man, wait!


From East to West the circling word has passed,
Till West is East beside our land-locked blue;
From East to West the tested chain holds fast,
The well-forged link rings true!


Hail! Snatched and bartered oft from hand to hand,
I dream my dream, by rock and heath and pine,
Of Empire to the northward. Ay, one land
From Lion's Head to Line!


Greeting! Nor fear nor favour won us place,
Got between greed of gold and dread of drouth,
Loud-voiced and reckless as the wild tide-race
That whips our harbour-mouth!


Greeting! My birth-stain have I turned to good;
Forcing strong wills perverse to steadfastness:
The first flush of the tropics in my blood,
And at my feet Success!


The northern stirp beneath the southern skies --
I build a Nation for an Empire's need,
Suffer a little, and my land shall rise,
Queen over lands indeed!


Man's love first found me; man's hate made me Hell;
For my babes' sake I cleansed those infamies.
Earnest for leave to live and labour well,
God flung me peace and ease.


Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart --
On us, on us the unswerving season smiles,
Who wonder 'mid our fern why men depart
To seek the Happy Isles!

Posted by: Lex at May 20, 2006 10:38 PM

What exactly are the numbers in parenthesis representing? If its population in millions then the numbers are definitely off as, for example, LA, both city and county, has a population of approx. 10 million. While the population of the entire state is roughly 36 million.

Posted by: Pat Patterson at May 20, 2006 11:03 PM

Pat -
In the case of the U.S. cities, the figures represent the metropolitan area, as defined by the Census Bureau.* A city's metropolitan area includes both the city itself and the suburban areas within its primary sphere of influence. One common standard is that the metropolitan area roughly corresponds with the city's commuting zone. That standard wouldn't necessarily be useful in many places outside the United States, for example London's commuting zone would encompass most of southeastern England, but in most parts of the U.S. (and Canada) it makes reasonably good sense.
One could argue that Los Angeles and Miami, to name a couple, are no longer full parts of the "Anglosphere," but that's another issue for another time.

* = the Census Bureau term used to be Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA), but I believe they now use something else.

Posted by: Peter at May 21, 2006 09:03 AM

What about Commonwealth cities -- especially India. Is the English-speaking aspect of India too tenuous in and of itself for admission to the Anglosphere? If so, would the non-ethinically English, yet English speaking, Commonwealth countries count as sort of affiliate or peripheral members of the Anglosphere?

Posted by: DeathBredon at May 21, 2006 10:00 AM

It is San Jose, not San Francisco. San Francisco long ago lost the position as the city with the largest population in the Silicon Valley. San Jose is the largest city and the most economically dynamic city.

San Francisco is just a doweger aunt living on her legacy.

Posted by: not a yank at May 21, 2006 11:04 AM

According to the NYT last year, there were 120-plus metropolitan-cities with populations over one million in Mainland China. Each a seething vortex of people, new industues, rising structural steel, concrete and new superhighways. And they don't look nor feel like Rome or Paris or Cairo; they look like "us".

Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) at May 21, 2006 02:55 PM

And they don't look nor feel like Rome or Paris or Cairo; they look like "us".

Or like Singapore or Hong Kong or Seoul or Tokyo, I'd guess -- they resemble American cities superficially because American cities are all new cities, built within the last 300 years, and many mostly built within the last hundred, or even the last fifty. If you're building a city on the cheap out of steel and glass and modern building materials (as opposed to hand carved bits of stone), it's going to look like an American city, not Paris or Cairo.

Many of the swelling metropolises of China are, of course, ancient cities in their own right, some far older than Paris (if not Cairo), but ancient cities far smaller than they are now.

Posted by: Taeyoung at May 22, 2006 09:06 AM

As to LA and SF, not long ago the Census Bureau split off Riverside and San Bernadino from Los Angeles, San Jose from San Francisco and Oakland, etc. To me these new divisions don't make sense from the perspective of economic geography, so I added the relevant numbers.

As to India, I continue to think it is a kind of hybrid culture that deserves to be treated differently from the "second Anglosphere" of America, Canada, Australia, etc. (the "first Anglosphere" being the British Isles themselves). Notice that I also left out other Commonwealth cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa (which I think is a borderline Anglosphere country).

As to Miami and LA (and SF and NY and Vancouver and so on), Jim Bennett argues that these cities indeed participate in several spheres -- Miami and LA obviously in the Hispanosphere, SF and Vancouver in the Sinosphere, and probably NY in just about every sphere on the planet. That doesn't make them any less important nodes in the Anglosphere, but it does make them special cases and connecting points between different spheres. Probably we could say the same thing about cities that are not primarily Anglospheric but that are partly Anglospheric -- Singapore, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Cape Town, Johannesburg, etc. An internationalist or Anglospherist Jane Jacobs could have fascinating things to say about the phenomenon of multi-sphere cities.

One of these days, I'll also attempt to figure out the "gross metropolitan product" of these Anglosphere cities, but that may be a more difficult undertaking, since most statistics seem to be national or (in the U.S.) state-based rather than based on metropolitan area. Perhaps county-based statistics could be added together in order to produce the right statistcs.

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at May 22, 2006 11:33 AM

if not for metro areas san francisco would come in at 775,000. if it were based on who wants to live inside the city it would be 5.8 million. we use the bay as our mote to keep them out! everyday 700,000 commute into SF, making SF one of the only cities in the world that doubles its population during the day. the bay bridge remains the most travelled bridge in the world.
i know, i have too much time on my hands!

Posted by: patrick neid at May 22, 2006 03:35 PM

Surprising to see only one UK city in that mix.

Posted by: Michael J. Smith at May 23, 2006 09:02 AM

Sydney (#11) has an error -- either the population figure of 4.4 million is wrong, or it shouldn't be #11.

Posted by: Craig at May 23, 2006 03:40 PM

Sorry, I missed Manchester and Birmingham the first time around (for consistency, the metropolitan areas of "Greater Manchester" and "West Midlands").

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at May 23, 2006 04:37 PM

Eh? Singapore is not a city? We have 4 million souls here!

Posted by: The Wobbly Guy at May 24, 2006 08:23 AM

Peter Saint-Andre,

Your comment about the size of Metro economies reminded me of a report a saw a few years ago. It only took a moment to find it again:

US top 100 Metro Economy Sizes (pdf)

This is also interesting:

US cities compared to nations (pdf)

Now you just need to find information for the non-US cities...

Posted by: Hylas at May 24, 2006 03:53 PM

That should be "a report I saw..."

Posted by: Hylas at May 24, 2006 03:59 PM

Hylas: that's beautiful, very interesting information! Yes, now I need to find information for the non-US cities (it would be fascinating to see a world ranking for Gross Metropolitan Product for the top 100 cities in the world!). Thanks!

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at May 24, 2006 05:00 PM

Glad I could help. :)

Posted by: Hylas at May 26, 2006 12:57 AM

Interesting stuff. But are we gazing at the calm cities before the terrible storm hits them? I recently picked up The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century by James H. Kunstler and it's premise is frightening.

Anyone out there have an opinion on this? I'm naturally a skeptic on these doomsayers but I don't want to dismiss him outright.

Posted by: Johnathan at May 26, 2006 08:25 AM

Here in San Jose, we consider San Francisco one of our bedroom communities.

However, it is appropriate to consider the whole SF Bay Area as one metropolitan area as the communications around the bay are good and we largely share a sense of community and inter-relatedness. However, as a previous poster noted, San Francisco is not the economic center anymore.

Since the Bay is the literal centerpiece of the area (all cities are on the fringes of it) and the bay is named "San Francisco" I would be fine with the world calling the metropolitan area San Francisco.

Posted by: Whitehall at June 13, 2006 04:40 PM
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