Is Boston a Global City?

Is Boston a "global city"?

Foreign Policy magazine thinks so, ranking the Hub 29th on its 2008 list of global cities, applying these five factors:

-business activity
-human capital (#9)
-information exchange
-cultural experience
-political engagement (yikes, #50)

This is an interesting feature to browse through: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_i...

Personally, I go back and forth on the question posed, sometimes thinking Boston feels quite worldly, other times thinking it feels quite parochial.

Neighborhoods: 

Comments

Of course.

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I think we are indeed a "global city," as well as many other important-sounding buzzwords. In no way are these terms totally useless, and created to sell books and magazines.

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WIN

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WIN

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Political engagement: huh?

How does Cairo get ranked #10 in political engagement? Egypt is not even remotely democratic. And Beijing #7 ??

Meanwhile, democratic Switzerland, Netherlands, and India have their cities downranked to the 50s in this category.

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Cairo

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Maybe I'm misunderstanding the category, but many in the Arabic world use Cairo as a place for their neutral-ground political discussions about ongoing disputes. For quite a few years now, Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon have all had political discussions in Cairo to deal with different aggressions between them.

Beijing has been out of the shell politically since Nixon and most recently is heavily involved in the North Korean negotiations (including supplying the location for most of the talks if I recall correctly).

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Maybe slightly more than

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Maybe slightly more than France's Ecole Polytechnique according to the Chinese?

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Boston's actually considered

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Boston's actually considered more European than American by European standards, actually. Don't know what these standards are - crumbling infrastructure? Cost of living? Architecture?

(Which reminds me of a favorite joke - if you're Asian in the kitchen and African in the living room, what are you in the bathroom? European!)

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architecture? we have built

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architecture? we have built exactly 1 interesting building since city hall. Most european cities half the size of boston have built more stunning buildings in the last two months.

Cambridge should be getting the attention. Without it Boston is Pittsburgh at best, or Buffalo at worst. A decaying has-been with island-mentality bureaucrats, a boorish sports culture and 1950s mentality of social norms.

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Non-college Cambridge

That would be Central Square, or Inman Square, or Porter Square, all of which seem like fine places to me.

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Not really college, but...

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Anecdotally... Central, Inman, and Porter all seem to be popular places for MIT grad students to live. Davis also seems popular, especially with recent alums.

(You can't swing a stick without hitting one of 'em! No matter how many swings you take!)

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Theres a whole other culture

Theres a whole other culture in Cambridge that is not linked to the colleges that have all the same previously mentioned problems. Talk about beuracracy, try getting anything done in that city and see how many people you have to talk to and how many forms you have to fill out. You can also find that 1950's era feel if you dig and know where to look, they can be very parochial, especially if you look at their business/civic/government organizations.

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so, the 2 block-"little

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so, the 2 block-"little italy" near the courthouse, and, uh, alewife?

But speaking of every inch of Cambridge, it's more than the college students. The city government itself is way beyond Boston's. From the diversity of elected officials to progressive infrastructural projects (like the current regime of CSO separation with LID streetscapes) or the simple fact that there is a network of bicycle lanes and they enforce bicycle traffic rules....

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Stunning New Buildings, you say

Boston may suffer from an intrinsic lack of vision, and paralysis and impotence when it comes to planning, but ...

IMAGE(http://www.eikongraphia.com/wordpress/wp-content/Barcelona_-_Agbar_Tower_-_night%20wikipedia%20small.jpg)IMAGE(http://www.ccmtiling.com/pics/gherkin%201.jpg)

I think we are doing well to avoid buildings that look like stunning sex toys. Good thing Kevin White isn't in charge these days - he'd want one! After all, nothing says "World Class Shitty" in 2010 like a buttplug-shaped city hall overlooking the harbor!

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No buttplug, but plenty of butt ugly

Alas, even in the absence of the giant buttplug, we've still got plenty of butt ugly 'round Govt Ctr.

Indeed, we share with cities like Berlin some of the ugliest buildings around, and at least they have an excuse: They rebuilt during that era of horrible design after the Allies bombed the living crap out of them.

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Male Dominance?

Or male irrelevance? These look like they would be good for female self-entertainment ... in fact, you can buy scale model "conversation pieces" of either building.

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so your comeback is to pick

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so your comeback is to pick 2 similar, phallic buildings from different countries and say "thank god we don't have good architecture"? Razor sharp logic there.

Shall I make a reply with images of the 15,235,467 contemporary buildings that that aren't dick shaped?

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1950's social norms?

Did the South Street Diner stop serving blacks when I wasn't looking? Not sure I understand your comment.

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yes it did, where were

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yes it did, where were you?

i was of course not talking about alcohol policies that restrict sales on the christian sabbath day, nimby crying over central city restaurants that want to stay open until midnight, the large extent of racial segregation between neighborhoods, or stuff like that.

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I was surprised

I was surprised to see Boston ranked so high.

I don't necessarily put a lot of stock in labels such as "global," but it matters to some. I agree that Boston is more American than global, and there's nothing wrong with that.

The elite universities, high tech, and medical research give Boston a certain worldly glow, but its guts & sinew seem fundamentally local. It's almost as if we're talking about two cities at times.

Many years ago, the Globe magazine did a photo feature on Boston's "European" look & feel, comparing some classic Hub buildings to supposed counterparts in Europe, poking around places like the North End, etc. Because I like old stuff, I wanted it to work for me, but it didn't quite do it. I think of the North End as being a wonderful ethnic neighborhood in an American city, but I've never felt transported across the pond while walking around there.

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Do you feel the need to be

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Do you feel the need to be 'transported across the pond' whereever you go? Personally, I find the tribalism across the pond to be a bit stifling, myself.

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Actually, if you read...

...that part of my post, you'll see that I was referring more to the architecture, the look of a city, not the culture or politics. It's a reference to the fact that Boston architectural critics have often compared the city to European cities.

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Toronto above Washington?

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Give me a break. Toronto shouldn't even be above Boston.

San Francisco above Berlin? What?

Cairo should be ranked much higher because of its position in the Arab and Muslim World, but that's ethnocentrism for you.

Nairobi has gone downhill for years, but I'm surprised it's not in the top 60 - it's still home to a slew of regional UN headquarters, so information exchange and political activity should bring it up.

Mumbai at 49, below Stockholm, Munich, Atlanta, KL and Tel Aviv? I don't think so.

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Everybody Hates Toronto

Remarks like this make me wonder if you have ever visited Toronto for business or for tourism. It is a much bigger city than Boston, with a much larger central business district, and it is growing much faster than Boston and has been for some time.

As for "why is it even above Boston", do you realize that Toronto is a huge intercontinental banking center?

Do you understand that Toronto is vastly more international in both its population and business ties than just about any other city on this continent?

Not that I have much use for Toronto myself - it's a combination of New York self-important with Seattle oblivious and vastly worse weather than either. That doesn't mean that it isn't a hugely more important place for business than D.C. or Boston, which it dwarfs in many categories of being a city. Boston has worked too hard for years to be a quaint little parochial city where nothing happens or changes for it to be otherwise.

(I do agree with you that Mumbai should be higher on the list. SanFrancisco is a huge Asian gateway, however, and that is why it surpasses Berlin, which is a more continental city)

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I Don't Hate Toronto

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I think it's a lovely city. It has excellent public transportation - streetcars, anyone? - and some superb entertainment options (decent theater scene, all major sports represented, Hockey Hall Of Fame, a couple of very decent art museums.) Maybe I've been lucky, but when I've been there I've met almost nothing but nice folks.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

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Toronto Reference

Suldog, you don't hate Toronto, and I don't either.

However, as we were heading into Toronto, which we visited on our way home from Chicago, we were listening to a CBC program on a book entitled "Why Everybody Hates Toronto". Many Canadians do hate Toronto and my brother's crew wondered why we even wanted to spend any time there (west of the 100th meridian, Toronto is hated with passion).

Although I did point out to my soon to be SIL, a Calgary native, that she really should visit before she should hate.

Why Everybody Hates Toronto
Let's All Hate Toronto

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Coming from someone who

Coming from someone who hates many places I never heard of this hatred for Toronto, Im actually kind of surprised by all of this information. I always thought of Toronto as a bland place where Canadian business happened, and had cheap enough labor and lax enough rules that it used to make a good double for Boston based movies (for those of you scoring at home when is the last time you heard of Boston doubling for Toronto in a movie???) I always thought everyone hated Quebec and Montreal...

EDIT:
After looking at some online info about Toronto I began to wonder if maybe the reason why "everyone hates Toronto" is because it is not what you expect from Canada? When you think of Canada you dont think of large cities, tall buildings, dense urban areas, street grids and the such. It goes against the Canadian stereotypes, and that could be the base of the perceived hatred.

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Hating Toronto

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It's a Canuck thing. Americans hating Toronto? Most Americans don't even know where it is, let alone care enough to hate it.

It seems to me that the hatred towards Toronto has a lot to do with the immense suburban sprawl around Toronto. You've never seen McMansions until you've been to Mississauga.

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