Los Angeles Hotels Blog

April 26, 2010

Los Angeles Ranks With Tokyo, New York As Alpha World City

Along with New York City and Chicago, Los Angeles is one of several cities in the Untied States to meet the definition of of an “alpha world city”, a concept popularized by England’s Loughborough University that is used to designate strategic geographic locales in a world characterized more and more by globalization. The Loughborough scale further classifies the planet’s leading cities as alpha, beta or gamma world cities, depending on how well a particular metropolis meets certain general characteristics.

With twelve points each, New York City, London and Tokyo are the undisputed point leaders in what is really a two-tier classification system within the overall “alpha world city” category. Within the alpha group, Los Angeles is a second tier designate that meets ten of the twelve characteristics ascribed by Loughborough University to the world’s leading cities.

Chief among the twelve characteristics is name recognition. Essentially, a city’s name must be so much “bigger than life” that the mere mention of its name transcends all geographical boundaries. Although many cities around the world share the same name, it is universally understood that a reference to Paris, London or New York means a specific city in France, the United Kingdom or the United States. The same can be said of Los Angeles, or L.A., which is universally recognized as a bustling metropolis and cultural center on the west coast of the United States.

Here’s a look at several other characteristics on the Loughborough University list that help qualify the City of Los Angeles as an alpha world city:

- An alpha world city is a home to many residents and will have a fairly large population. With an estimated population of 3.8 million (according to estimates made in 2006 by the U.S. Census Bureau), Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States.

- An alpha world city is a transportation nexus, usually with an important international airport used as a hub by a number of international air carriers. Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, is the world’s fifth busiest commercial airport. LAX serves nearly ninety domestic and seventy international destinations and is considered a gateway to destinations throughout Asia and Oceania.

- An alpha world city is also a sports nexus. Here, too, Los Angeles can claim a leadership role with major league baseball and basketball teams. On the international stage, Los Angeles has twice hosted the Summer Olympic Games, once in 1932 and once in 1984. A spin-off of the 1984 Games was the Los Angeles Marathon, which has hosted international athletes annually since 1986.

These are only three of a dozen characteristics that define an alpha world city according to the Loughborough University scale. Los Angeles scores ten of twelve points on this scale, making it one of the planet’s most influential and important cities.

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