Recently I posted the 2010 update to the greatest city rankings. As I noted, the updated rankings show a decisive shift in global influence from the United States to Asia in the period since the 2002 rankings. European and Latin American cities held steady on average, although Italian cities shot up in the rankings. Africa fell back a bit, confirming the thesis of the Bottom Billion by Paul Collier (short synopsis: the poorest billion on earth, predominately in Africa, are stuck in a variety of traps that keep them out of the development process and stuck in increasing poverty).
Lets zoom in on the drop in the U.S. rankings and the rise in the rankings of Asian cities. Three biggest gainers were Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Wuhan, all in China. The three biggest losers were Hamburg (Germany), St. Louis and Columbus (Ohio). Detroit dropped 25 places from #21 to #46.
Here is the detail on the three large gainers:
The single largest factor in the rise of these cities is their massive population growth, underscoring the scale of the unprecedented migration within China to its manufacturing cities. The growth in web citations is equally impressive, although totals are not yet high enough to receive scoring.
The detail on the three largest losers follows:
In 2002, these cities received scoring primarily for web citations and Fortune 500 company headquarters. (None of them are large enough to receive population scoring). The growth of the web in the intervening years meant that the web citations had to increase ten-fold for the city to break even in the rankings. Web citations for these cities grew, but nowhere near fast enough to keep up. And all three cities lost corporate headquarters, possibly due to corporate mergers (centralization) or de-industrialization. Also notable in the significant drop in air traffic to St. Louis, resulting from the loss of the TWA hub after it’s “merger” with American Airlines.
During the 2000’s, Asian cities grew spectacularly, while many U.S. cities failed to keep pace during the “lost decade” of housing booms and falling real wages. (For a German take on U.S. decline read here.) Not all U.S. cities fell in the rankings: Orlando moved up 5 spaces, and San Francisco 2. How did my hometown of Seattle fare? Dropped 6 spaces. Web citations and airport passengers grew proportionately, but the number of corporate headquarters fell, bringing down the total scoring.