Many of today’s global cities are old-world cities that reinvented themselves. Like London or Istanbul, they already had enormous complexity and diversity. On the other hand, there are old-world cities, like Venice, that are definitely not global cities today.
And then there’s Miami. Never an old-world city, today Miami is certainly a global city — why? It’s quite surprising. Where did its diversity and complexity come from? Let’s go back to the history. Before the 1990s, Miami was sort of a dreadful little spot, frankly.
There was lots of domestic tourism; it was cheap; it was rundown; it was seen as dominated by the Cubans. But several important things happened. One was the infrastructure of international trade that the Cubans in Miami developed. There was also real estate development, often spurred by wealthy individuals from South America.
All this coincided with the opening of Latin America. In the 1990s and early 2000s, firms from all over the world — the Taiwanese, Italians, Korean, French, all over — set up regional headquarters in Miami. In the 1990s, there was also deregulation, so Miami becomes the banking center for Central America. Then the art circuit, the designers’ circuit, and other things began to come into the city. Large international corporations began to locate branches there, forging a strong bridge with Europe that doesn’t run through New York. That mix of cultures — in such a concentrated space, and covering so many different sectors — created remarkable diversity and complexity. Of course, the Miami case is rather exceptional.”
Chalk one up for Miami! This is great news, but we still have our work cut out for ourselves if we truly want to become a competitive global player. We need to seriously think about investing in a proper public transit system if we aspire to be a Global City.
You can read the entire interview with Saskia Sassen here.
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