Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: Back to the future?

Dec 7, 2010


Metropolitan Washington – made up of the District of Columbia Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland – has about 5.3 million people. It’s one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country that’s not in Texas California or the southeast and its continued growth represents a national and international trend: the rise of global cities.

Quick history lesson: prior to the formation of modern nations of Germany Switzerland Italy and Greece these countries were made up of multiple city-states – independent entities comprised of a single city or region. Singapore and Vatican City are two primary modern examples.

Parag Khanna from Foreign Policy magazine commented not long ago on the potential that something along the lines of the city-state could resurface as a dominant form once again this time not as a political entity but as a form of economic organization. Khanna notes that the world’s largest cities already dominate global economy and culture:

“Already more than half the world lives in cities and the percentage is growing rapidly. But just 100 cities account for 30 percent of the world’s economy and almost all its innovation. Many are world capitals that have evolved and adapted through centuries of dominance: London New York Paris.”

If metro Washington is going to remain competitive in the era of large global cities we’re going to have to work decisively as a region and working to meet RF targets as a region is a major step in that direction. Our rivals are no longer simply Philadelphia and New York but Shanghai and Istanbul as well.


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