Back in the days when the housing bubble was inflating at full speed, a frequent argument trotted out by home salesmen lamely attempting to justify the ridiculously high home prices in the Seattle area was that Seattle is a “world class city,” and as such, it is reasonable to expect home prices here to be high.
My position on that argument is unchanged from what I laid out in 2007, but I bring the topic up again today because it was the subject of a lengthy editorial this week by the Seattle Times’ Jon Talton: To compete and thrive, Seattle strives for global status
Now, you can order a Starbucks coffee in more than 50 countries from Hong Kong to Hungary. Microsoft has operations on five continents, and its software runs computers across the globe. From downtown Seattle, Expeditors International acts as a travel agent for freight around the world.
Does all this make Seattle a global city? Does it even matter?
…being a “world city” or “global city,” terms that emerged as globalization took hold in the 1990s, carries a specific connotation.
Sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod identified only three from the United States in her influential 1999 book, “New York, Los Angeles, Chicago: America’s Global Cities.”
The Mori Memorial Foundation in Japan ranked cities using 70 indicators including the economy, research and development, “cultural interaction,” livability, environment and accessibility. Vancouver, B.C., made the cut. Seattle didn’t.
…you won’t find us on prestigious lists compiled by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) at Loughborough University in England. The think tank analyzed the “intercity connectivities” of the planet’s most important “strategic places.”
We’re not just below New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, but also San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Miami, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Houston.
Here’s the updated list of “Global Cities” in the US from the GaWC:
|Alpha++||New York City|
Seattle’s standing as a Global City falls just under Houston, just above, Detroit, and on par with Minneapolis. So if you’re going to talk about Seattle’s “world class” status, it makes more sense to compare us to Houston, Detroit, and Minneapolis than New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.