Los Angeles Hotels Blog

August 22, 2010

Los Angeles Scores High as Alpha World City

Los Angeles, California, is one of several U.S. cities, along with New York City and Chicago, to enjoy the designation of “alpha world city”, a concept developed at England’s Loughborough University to identify strategic geographical locations that play an important role in the ongoing process of globalization. Essentially a 12-point scale, the Loughborough system divides the world’s leading cities into three categories: alpha, beta or gamma, depending on whether and to what extent the city in question satisfies a dozen general criteria.

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.

Name recognition is at the top of the list of characteristics every alpha world city must have. In the world of alpha cities, the mere mention of a city’s name transcends any and all geographical boundaries. Consider the fact that many cities around the world share the same name. However, there is universal agreement that a reference to Paris, London or New York, for example, automatically refers to one and only one specific city in France, the United Kingdom or the United States, respectively. Much the same is true of Los Angeles, also universally recognized simply as “L.A.”, the bustling economic and cultural center on the U.S. West Coast.

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 has a substantial population. According to 2006 estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau, L.A.’s population is 3.8 million, making it the largest city in California and the second largest city in the United States after New York City.

- 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 cultural nexus. As the focal point of America’s television and movie industry, film and TV studios in Los Angeles produce world-class entertainment seen both domestically and abroad.

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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