New York And London Fight For Supremacy

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 107 months ago
New York And London Fight For Supremacy

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Image by Piers Fawkes
After a brief detente, which saw Boris feted in New York, Mayor Bloomberg big up the City, shop-swapping, and the odd art project diversion, the Big Smoke and the Big Apple are now vying once again for cultural and financial dominance.

A lengthy piece by Sophie Elmhirst in the New Statesmen draw a parallel between the two cities as they respond to the economic collapse. Beginning by framing the approaches taken by the respective mayors — Johnson's shtick a "long, wonderfully elaborate joke" at odds with the "hushing effect" Bloomberg's presence invites — Elmhirst gives a potted history of the boom and bust that both cities experienced during the 20th century, culminating in the period of exponential growth that led to the events of September 2008. Both mayors recognise that the survival of their metropolis could be at the expense of the other; where they diverge is in their visions for future economic growth. Johnson has defended the City and the hedge funders who got us in this mess, while Bloomberg's man on the economy, former Lehmans trader Robert Lieber, speaks openly about New York becoming less reliant on financial services, citing the green economy as a key opportunity — an area that, bike programmes notwithstanding, Boris Johnson remains "utterly shabby" on, according to a Green London Assembly member.

Elmhirst's conclusion: "[Bloomberg wants New York] to diversify so they are not as dependent on financial services. They believe that their city can grow in a new way... Johnson would prefer London to revert to its former so-called glory - a city with less regulation and a new airport".

Still, in the short term, London can at least claim bragging rights: New York has come cap-in-hand to beg for tips on how to run its transport network. Jay Walder, the American-born former TfL executive who took over New York's equivalent MTA this year, is spending $500,000 to ship in some of his former colleagues in order to help bring in innovations that Londoners take for granted. Oyster cards and electronic information boards displaying when the next train will arrive? You won't see any such technical marvels in Manhattan. Just don't mention air-conditioning: impending developments aside, we're still playing catch-up there.

Last Updated 26 October 2009