Wednesday, February 08, 2012


From the Brookings Institution via the Atlantic, an interesting contrast in city dynamism with dueling lists of the ten fastest growing and the ten fastest declining world cities. China was dominant on the list of the fastest growing with first place Shanghai and three others, including Shenzhen, the second largest city in the Pearl River megacity project. Surprisingly, Turkey placed three cities while Saudi Arabia placed two, leading me to wonder how exactly the folks at Brookings acquire such specific economic data from tyrannical and less than transparent regimes.

The list of declining cities reads like a bodycount of Fromer's European gems: Madrid, Lisbon, Naples, Dublin, Athens. Tourist cities crippled by the world recession is only a part of the explanation however. Like the two U.S. cities that made the list (Sacramento, California, and Richmond, Virginia), these cities have been hardest hit by the tightening of government largess. Increasingly reliant for so many years on the tax jar, these bureaucratically bloated and socialist epicentres are painfully witnessing the effects of their primary industry, the government, downsized. Not only have they realized the Thatcherian omen of running out of other people's money, like others that live on the government dole, they've forgotten how to do anything else.

Keeping with the theme is Forbes' annual list of America's most miserable cities. A disheartening list of twenty of the nation's worst cities, many being the usual suspects of similar lists (poorest cities, most violent cities, drunkest cities, etc.), the article could have been alternately titled "California, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida: America's most miserable states." They cover nearly the entire list with a total of sixteen entries, and although they are among the most populous of all fifty states, the lack of entries from Texas, Pennsylvania, or New York (Buffalo?!) suggests that factors other than large populations are responsible for their high representations.

1. Miami, FL
2. Detroit, MI
3. Flint, MI
4. West Palm Beach, FL
5. Sacramento, CA
6. Chicago, IL
7. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
8. Toledo, OH
9. Rockford, IL
10. Warren, MI
11. Stockton, CA
12. Cleveland, OH
13. Lansing, MI
14. Akron, OH
15. Merced, CA
16. Memphis, TN
17. Bakersfield, CA
18. Vallejo, CA
19. Modesto, CA
20. Gary, IN

At least these places exist. Listverse has a couple of fun lists on non-existent cities including Top 10 Amazing Cities You Will Never Visit (conceptualized cities never built) and Top 10 Lost Cities. For a more recent lost city there is the Walled City of Kowloon, a former city within a city once located in Kowloon, Hong Kong. A near airtight cluster of several hundred adjoining buildings, most 10-15 stories high, it culturally isolated a population of over 30 000 people. Sitting on a six and a half acre grid, it had a population density (over 3 million per square mile) like no other city in the world.

(photo source)


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