The World Metropolis: New York or London?

In 1919, London’s long-held title as “the world metropolis” was threatened by the sharp rise of New York City. Which would win out?

There are a few ways to measure this.

By population, it looked like greater New York would soon overtaken Greater London around 1932.

Indeed, today the NYC metropolitan area is much larger than London’s, at 23.8 million versus 14.1 million. However, the NYC area only ranks #10 in the world and London only ranks #29. The Delhi, India area tops the list with 46.0 million people.

Another way is by the size of the area’s economy, or gross domestic product (GDP). New York City’s again ranks higher than London’s, at at estimated $1.71 trillion versus $595 billion. NYC “only” ranks #2 and London ranks #10 by this metric. Tokyo, Japan tops the list with $1.89 trillion.

Another way, even though it is far less quantitative or objective, is just by what “feels right.” For example, even though U.S. News and World Report technically ranked Princeton as the country’s best university this year according to the specific metrics they used in their tabulation, almost anybody in real life would tell you that the country’s best university is either Harvard or Yale.

Similarly, if any international readers will excuse this author’s American bias, New York City just “feels like” the world’s metropolis.

The World Metropolis: New York or London?: Twin Wonder Cities Will Tie in Population in 1932, British Journalist Believes, and Wall Street Will Become the Partner, Not the Rival, of Lombard Street

Published: Sunday, August 3, 1919

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