London

The World's Most Influential Cities

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In the past century, the greatest global cities were generally the largest and centers of the world’s great empires: London, Paris, New York and Tokyo. Today size is not so important: Of the world’s 10 most populous cities, only Tokyo, New York and Beijing are in the top 10 of our ranking of the world’s most important cities. Instead, what matters today is influence.  read more »

Will London Embrace the Monaco Model?

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London’s goal — admirable for any city of medieval invention — is to drive the private car underground and replace it with a web of mass transit, suburban trains, bike lanes, taxi stands, and walkways. All of those are well calibrated to an urban grid that consists of mews, squares, and quirky side streets with names like Shoulder of Mutton Alley.  read more »

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Britain's Planning Laws: Of Houses, Chickens and Poverty

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Perhaps for the first time in nearly seven decades a serious debate on housing affordability appears to be developing in the United Kingdom. There is no more appropriate location for such an exchange, given that it was the urban containment policies of the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 that helped drive Britain's prices through the roof. Further, massive damage has been done in countries where these polices were adopted, such as in Australia and New Zealand (now scurrying to reverse things) as well as metropolitan areas from Vancouver to San Francisco, Dublin, and Seoul.  read more »

The Drive-It-Yourself Taxi: A Smooth Ride?

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Despite a corporate sponsor that paid handsomely for the naming rights, Londoners stubbornly refer to our bikesharing system as ‘Boris Bikes’, in a nod to our colourful Mayor, Boris Johnson. But what will we call our new drive-it-yourself taxis? My suggestion: ‘Boris Cabs’ – and they are now a reality here, thanks to Daimler’s car2go service, if you happen to live in one of three small and separate sections of town. But why did a one-way carsharing system have to limp into London, when more than a dozen other cities have welcomed these arrangements with open arms? In the US, car2go first appeared in Austin, Texas, and since then has moved into Washington, D.C, Miami, Portland Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. It operates in Canada  read more »

Libor: Is The City of London Fixed?

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Having worked inside banking, do I think that banks colluded to post an artificial London interbank offered rate, otherwise known as Libor? For those not in the brotherhood, that acronym is a compendium of average borrowing prices from sixteen large banks, pronounced either as lee-boar or lie-bore. Before turning to conspiracy theories, let’s review the facts of a scandal that began more than four years ago, and are so murky that I, for one — despite twenty-five years in international banking — have a hard time grasping.  read more »

London's Olympic Whingers

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Busted. "Even in the best of times, whinging, as Britons call the persistent low-grade grousing that is their default response to life’s challenges, is part of the national condition", Sarah Lyall writes in the New York Times, about Londoners’ failure to embrace the Olympic Spirit. If a British newspaper mocked America there would be a flood of patriotic remonstrance right back at us. But when The Guardian asked its readers whether it was true that Britons were whingers, this is how the poll went:  read more »

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The Evolving Urban Form: London

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The 2011 census results show that London (the Greater London Authority, which is Inner and Outer London) experienced its greatest percentage population growth in more than 100 years (1891 to 1901). London added nearly 1,000,000 new residents since 2001. That growth, however, is not an indication that "people are moving back to the city." On the contrary, National Statistics data indicates that London lost 740,000 domestic migrants between 2001 and 2011.  read more »

London Olympics 2012: Let the Games End

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Why does anyone persist with the Greek mythology that the Olympics are an engine of economic development, sportsmanship, or peace on earth? London is spending $15 billion on the hope that it can sell enough tickets to synchronized swimming, and earn enough from television ads, to cover the costs of the 30,000 rent-a-cops and military personnel being deployed in the spirit of Olympic harmony.  read more »

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Gentrification? Brixton's Angell Town Story

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In the US, urban planners talk about the 'redevelopment' of a neighborhood. In the UK, 'regeneration' is heard more often. What is the difference, from both the planner and the resident perspective? Are they both synonyms for 'gentrification'? Angell Town , a UK 'estate' in Brixton — it would be called a 'public housing project' by Americans — provides a good example of how these questions are answered in practice.  read more »

London’s Social Cleansing

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Unscrupulous landlords are forcing poorer tenants out of their London homes, freeing them up to rent out to visitors to the Olympics this summer, according to the housing charity Shelter. At the same time, the government’s cap on rent subsidies (Housing Benefits) for those out of work or on low incomes threaten to force less well-off tenants out of the capital. Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales says that they will have to move people as far afield as Stoke-on-Trent if they are to meet their obligations to house the homeless.  read more »