|The First Megacities Lecture
February 1997, Rotterdam
Megacities, World Cities and Global Cities
The author of the first Megacities Lecture - in a series of lectures to be delivered by well known authorities in the field of Megacities - is Peter Hall, Professor in Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning in London. Peter Hall is specialized in metropolitan planning and can be considered the founder of the concept "World Cities". He published many books about the origin and development of world cities.
Starting with Some History
One useful question to ask in academic life, I've always found, is: what's new and different? We don't refer back to history as much as we used to, at least in my native United Kingdom; if we do, quite often, it gives an entirely different perspective. The term mega-cities is new, and I suppose we owe it particularly to Janice Perlman. But the phenomenon of course is not new at all: the Greeks clearly regarded their Megalopolis as a very big place, at least potentially, but perhaps that was the earliest known case of urban boosterism. It was founded around 370 B.C. by Epaminondas of Thebes, and its wall reached about 9 kilometres round; he helped its progress by forcibly moving into it the inhabitants of some forty local villages, but it did not help much, since the place never seems to have got any bigger than about 40,000 people at its zenith (Chandler and Fox 1974, 80).
Even Athens, which we know seemed dangerously large to the people of the ancient world, was preposterously small by our standards. In 432 B.C., at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, when its population probably reached its maximum, the entire Athenian polis - city and surrounding countryside - had between 215,000 and 300,000 people, of whom citizens numbered 35-45,000, citizens with families 110-180,000, resident aliens (metics) 10-15,000, metics with families 25-40,000, slaves 80-110,000; by 400 B.C. the total had shrunk to 115-175,000. It was the most populous Greek state, yet in population it was one-thirtieth the size of Greater London or one-thirty-eighth of New York City in the 1980s (Kitto 1951, 95, Chamoux 1965, 304; Grant 1964, 195; Hammond 1967, 329-30; Joint Association of Classical Teachers 1984, 73, 157; Ehrenberg 1969, 31-2).
Rome of course was much more serious: a kind of rehearsal or trailer for what cities would later become. It was, simply, the first giant city in world history. Precisely how big is a mater for conjecture: the estimates vary wildly, from 250,000 to 1,487,560 [plus slaves], but the great majority, for various dates from the late Republican age to the fourth century AD, come in the range from three quarters of a million to around one and a quarter million, most of them close to one million. You can take your pick: the fact is that Rome was very big, bigger by far than any city before, two or three times the record set by Patna three hundred years earlier, or by Babylon one hundred and fifty years before that, and probably bigger than any that would follow it for the next seven hundred years (Carcopino 1941, 18, 20; Korn 1953, 32; Packer 1967, 82-3, 86-7; Chandler and Fox 1974, 300-323; Stambaugh 1988, 89; Drinkwater 1990, 371; Robinson 1992, 8). Its huge size positively forced its administrators to devise complex systems of international food supplies, to grapple successfully with long-distance delivery of water and with complex systems of waste disposal, even to formulate rules of urban traffic management.
After that, things settled down for a bit. It took another seventeen centuries before another western city came to rival and then overtake Classical Rome. Constantinople may have equalled ancient Rome in the middle ages, Peking in the early modern period; but, some time just after 1800, London became indisputably the greatest city that had ever existed in the world. And it began to expand at a dizzy rate, establishing a precedent that would be followed, all too often, first by North American and Australasian cities in the nineteenth century, then by the cities of the developing world in the twentieth. The population of the area that later became the Metropolitan Board of Works and then the London County Council rose from 959,000 in 1801, passing the one million mark ten years later, to reach 2,363,000 in 1851, more than a doubling; it then doubled again, to 4,536,000 in 1901. But by the start of the twentieth century, the LCC area was already inadequate as a description of the real London: that real London was Greater London, a statistical concept that happened also to coincide approximately with the Metropolitan Police District, which had more than doubled from 1,117,000 in 1801 to 2,685,000 in 1851, but had then increased no less than two and a half times to 6,586,000 by 1901: a truly prodigious rate of growth. Even by 1801, Greater London had more than 12 per cent of the population of England and Wales; by the end of the century, over 20 per cent. By 1885, as was pointed out at a meeting of the Statistical Society, London was by far the largest city in the world: its population was larger than that of Paris, three times that of New York or Berlin within their then limits (Chandler and Fox 1974, 368; Mitchell and Deane 1962, 19-23; Young and Garside 1982, 14).
But it didn't enjoy that preeminence for long: New York soon and overtook it. It all came in a tremendous rush, as contemporaries pointed out at the time. Between 1870 and 1900 the population of the old city of New York - just Manhattan island, plus the Bronx - doubled, whereas that of the outer three counties increased by more than two and a half times. The extension of the New York City boundary in 1898, to include those outer counties - which became the boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn and Richmond - at a stroke increased the city's area tenfold and more than doubled the population, from 1.5 million to 3.4 million. Thence, in the short forty-year period to 1940, this enlarged city's population more than doubled again, to 7.45 million. New York was the third largest city of the world in population terms in 1875; second in 1900; first by 1925 (Rischin 1962, 10; Condit 1980, 105; Jackson 1984, 321; Hammack 1982, 186, 200, 227-8).
London and New York kept some kind of global preeminence after that, of course, into the 1950s, when the growth first of western cities like Los Angeles, and then of the great cities of the developing world, far overtook them. Since 1950, propelled by high rates of natural increase and internal migration, many cities in this group have grown to be numbered among the world's largest. While in 1960 nine of the world's nineteen mega-cities were in developing countries, the projection for 2000 is that 50 out of 66 will be (Setchell 1995, 2).
World Cities and Global Cities
But the older cities have kept some kind of special position in the global hierarchy, not of size, but of function. And here we need to explore those other elusive terms, which tend to get mixed up with mega city: they are world city and global city. It turns out that world cities, too, are not exactly a new phenomenon. Patrick Geddes already recognized them and defined them, as long ago as 1915, in a book that has become a classic of the planning literature: Cities in Evolution (Geddes 1915). And just over thirty years ago I published a book entitled The World Cities (Hall 1966), defining them in terms of multiple roles: they were centres of political power, both national and international, and of the organizations related to government; centres of national and international trade, acting as entrepôts for their countries and sometimes for neighbouring countries also; hence, centres of banking, insurance and related financial services; centres of advanced professional activity of all kind, in medicine, in law, in the higher learning, and the application of scientific knowledge to technology; centres of information gathering and diffusion, through publishing and the mass media; centres of conspicuous consumption, both of luxury goods for the minority and mass-produced goods for the multitude; centres of arts, culture and entertainment, and of the ancillary activities that catered for them. And, I argued, these kinds of activities tended to grow in importance; so, in the twentieth century, the world cities went from strength to strength: even as they shed some kinds of activity, from routine manufacturing to routine paper-processing, so they took on new functions and added to existing ones (Hall 1966, 1984).
This definition, I would argue, still applies thirty years later. But it does need amplification and modification, because of the phenomenon of globalization and its impact on the urban system, coupled with what can be called the informationalization of the economy, the progressive shift of advanced economies from goods production to information handling, whereby the great majority of the workforce no longer deal with material outputs (Hall 1995b, 1995c). About fifteen years ago John Friedmann was the first to suggest that this was resulting in a global hierarchy, in which London, New York and Tokyo are "global financial articulations", Miami, Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Singapore and "multinational articulations", and Paris, Zurich, Madrid, Mexico City, São Paulo, Seoul and Sydney are "important national articulations", all forming a "network" (Friedmann 1986; Friedmann and Wolff 1982; q. Smith and Timberlake 1995, 294). Manuel Castells has characterized this as the fundamental economic shift of the present era, as momentous as the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Castells 1989; Castells 1996).
Now the interesting point is that all this is not new either. The process of tertiarization of the economy was already recognized half a century ago (Clark 1940); by the 1980s, 30-40 per cent of the workforce in advanced countries were engaged in informational industries. Some argue that these activities still depend on production (Gershuny and Miles 1983; Cohen and Zysman 1987); but evidently, as the combined effect of globalization and informationalization, the important point is that the production of advanced business or producer services becomes increasingly disarticulated from that of production. As Saskia Sassen (1991) has put it:
The spatial dispersion of production, including its internationalization, has contributed to the growth of centralized service nodes for the management and regulation of the new space economy ... To a considerable extent, the weight of economic activity over the last fifteen years has shifted from production places such as Detroit and Manchester, to centers of finance and highly specialized services. (Sassen 1991)
Thus, as production disperses worldwide, services increasingly concentrate into a relatively few trading cities, both the well-known "global cities" and a second rung of about twenty cities immediately below these, which we can distinguish as "sub-global". These cities are centres for financial services (banking, insurance) and headquarters of major production companies; most are also seats of the major world-power governments (King 1990, Sassen 1991). They attract specialized business services like commercial law and accountancy, advertising and public relations services and legal services, themselves increasingly globalized, and related to controlling headquarters locations. In turn this clustering attracts business tourism and real estate functions; business tourism allies with leisure tourism because both are in part drawn to these cities because of their cultural reputations, with effects on the transportation, communication, personal services and entertainment-cultural sectors. There is intense competition between cities both at a given level in the hierarchy and also between levels in the hierarchy; but also a great deal of historic inertia. Take London, on which David Kynaston's excellent history gives a comprehensive view of the nineteenth-century global trading city. Thirty foreign banks were already established in London before 1914, 19 between the two world wars, another 87 down to 1969. Then the pace accelerated: 183 in the 1970s, 115 in the first half of the 1980s; in all, between 1914 and the end of 1985 the number of foreign banks in the City grew more than fourteen-fold, from 30 to 434. Both London and New York now had more foreign than domestic banks (Thrift 1987, 210; King 1990, 89-90, 113; Moran 1991, 4; Coakley 1992, 57-61; Kynaston 1994, 1995, passim).
Globalization plus informationalization meant that the informational industries locate in order to gain access to their central raw material, information. To understand the significance, we need to understand how this informationalization of the economy has occurred. We can say that, with every successive major technological development of the last century and a half, the information content of the innovation wave became more and more pronounced. Here I'm going to propose a long-wave framework derived from Nikolai Kondratieff and Joseph Schumpeter (Kondratieff 1935, Schumpeter 1939). In the first so-called Kondratieff long wave, during the first half of the nineteenth century, it was negligible: the only contribution was indirect, through transport technology in the form of the turnpike roads and the fast mail coach, which significantly speeded the exchange of letters. In the second, dating from the second half of the last century, as well as transport technology in the form of the railway and the steamship, came the significant innovation of the electric telegraph, for the first time (experiments in semaphore and similar telegraphy apart) effectively separating the message from the human carrier. The third Kondratieff, in the first half of this century, saw one of the greatest bursts of information technology innovation; yet oddly, since electrical generation and transmission were also an outcome of this innovation wave, most were not electrical but mechanical in character. The real marriage of electricity and information through electronics had to await the fourth Kondratieff just after World War II, though of course the innovations themselves were made before and during the war. And in this wave, though there were also significant developments in transport technology (for instance, the jet engine), the fundamental innovations were informational. Information for the first time drove the economy, both through innovations in production technology (the computer, the copying machine) and also through developments in consumer technology (the transistor radio, the television, audio and video recording). And the fifth Kondratieff wave - which Kondratieff enthusiasts expect before very long - will undoubtedly see the effective convergence of these technologies into one, which will have the interesting characteristic of being simultaneously a producer and a consumer technology in a way that no previous technology has been.
The historical background is important to understand, because - even in a world where much information is now conveyed through high technology, to the degree that high technology and information technology tend almost to become conflated - information is still communicated in two entirely different ways: by electronic transfer, but also by direct face-to-face communication. Face-to-face communication, as recognized long ago by the American economist Robert Murray Haig (Haig 1926), encourages agglomeration in the global cities, because of their historically strong concentrations of information-gathering and informational-exchanging activities and their position as nodes for national and international movement, especially by air and now also high- speed train (Hall 1991, 1992a, 1992b, 1993). And this is fortified by the remarkable recent growth of the arts, culture and entertainment sector, where - for instance - employment grew by 20 per cent in London during the 1980s (London Planning Advisory Committee 1991), with further indirect impacts on associated personal services including hotels, restaurants, bars and associated facilities. For this group, too, clusters within urban cores and is subject to considerable locational inertia; but this can be modified by revitalization projects like London's South Bank and Barbican, or the Grands Projets in Paris. However, it was never feasible to operate an informational economy simply on the basis of dense agglomeration; even at the end of the Middle Ages, Florentine bankers were engaged in dense networks of activity between the major cities of Europe, and into the Far East, all conducted by couriers rushing all over the then globe. And, as global activity increased under capitalism, so transport networks multiplied, connecting these dense face-to-face agglomerations, in the form of railway systems and steamship lines backed up first by letter post, then by the telegraph from the 1830s, then by the telephone from the 1870s. During the nineteenth century, the growth of global cities like London, New York and Tokyo was supported by their position as centres of national rail networks and of international steamship lines (though the latter might operate through subsidiary ports connected by railways, such as Liverpool and then Southampton for London, Le Havre for Paris, Hamburg for Berlin, or Yokohama for Tokyo). Then, to some extent in the interwar period but overwhelmingly after it, air travel supplanted trains and ships for all intercontinental business travel and a substantial proportion of local inter-city travel over a certain threshold [typically about 300 kilometres]. Since this revolution, which was more or less complete by the end of the 1950s, the technology of air travel has remained remarkably stable, though increases in size and range of aircraft have had a significant impact in eliminating the need for intermediate stops on long-haul flights, with some notable urban impacts - particularly over the Pacific, the world's largest ocean (O'Connor 1995). One consequence, associated also with the dominance of a few major airlines and the increasing tendency to mergers and strategic alliances between them, is that this traffic is increasingly concentrated on to a relatively few major hub airports, all in the largest cities, which offer the biggest range of direct nonstop flights and also the most convenient and frequent interlining facilities. Recent studies of the interconnectivity of cities by air suggest that London is top, followed by Paris, New York and Tokyo (Smith and Timberlake 1995, 298; Cattan 1995, 304- 308).
The really new element, constituting a further transport revolution of profound significance, has been the arrival of the high-speed train, first in Japan in 1964 [and thus a fourth Kondratieff technology], then in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Experience shows that effectively it competes with air transportation in the range up to about 500 kilometres, and may effectively supplant it for much shorter-distance traffic between major urban centres, particularly if these centres are disposed in axial or corridor fashion [as is the case for instance on the Tokaido corridor in Japan between Tokyo and Osaka, or in Europe between Paris, Lyon and Marseille, or between Hamburg, Hannover, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Munich, or more recently between London, Paris and Brussels). The significance of the trains is not merely that they compete effectively, but that they are likely to alter the delicate geographical balance within metropolitan areas: with the exception of some services deliberately designed to interconnect with longer- distance air routes [as for instance through Paris-Charles de Gaulle], they essentially connect traditional central business districts, and thus powerfully help to correct any tendency on the part of business to migrate from these centres to suburban locations close to the airports - a trend long observed in the United States, but now becoming evident in Europe also, in developments around London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Amsterdam Schiphol or Stockholm Arlanda.
Electronic communication, it is often argued, works in the opposite direction, as an agent of dispersal: as the costs of telecommunication have fallen dramatically (the cost of a three-minute daytime phone call from London to New York, in constant 1996 prices, has fallen from an impressive £487 in 1927 to £63 in 1945, to just over £12 in 1970, to precisely 52p. today), informational activities should be increasingly free to locate away from the old central locations, indeed anywhere they like. Not only can they migrate to lower-cost back offices in the outer suburbs - a tendency observable worldwide, in such concentrations as Greenwich [Connecticut] and the New Jersey "Zip Strip", or Reading west of London, or the Paris New Towns, or Omiya and Kawasaki outside Tokyo]; they may also migrate to quite distant provincial cities offering even greater savings in rents and salaries, such as the new financial centres of Bristol or Leeds in England, or such locations as Salt Lake City or Omaha [Nebraska] in the United States; and, eventually, there is always the prospect that some such activities can be transferred to even lower- cost offshore locations, as has happened with so much manufacturing. But there are limits: telecommunications are not costless, and [unlike the traditional arrangements with mail] the costs are not uniform regardless of distance; world cities create their own demand for state-of-the-art telecommunications services (such as all-digital systems); linguistic and cultural boundaries, especially in Europe, create powerful barriers to the transfer of any activity based on direct voice communication, whether direct telephone sale of insurance or international television transmission. Even in Europe, studies show that the diffusion of advanced information technology is far more rapid in the largest metropolitan regions than elsewhere (Goddard and Gillespie 1987, 1988; Batty 1988). And so, as the informational economy grows, the largest global cities retain their key role.
Besides, there's another factor. We tend to think of telecommunications as substituting for personal travel and face-to-face meetings, but the reality is that they are also complimentary. Data from France show that over a long period, the curves for telecommunications traffic and personal travel have risen almost precisely in parallel (Graham and Marvin 1995, 262); I have no doubt that the evidence from every other country would be identical. If you need further evidence, just look at the growth of international business air travel, at the growth of the major international hotel chains, or indeed the convention business. Again, apart from developments in some major resort areas such as Florida or Queensland's Gold Coast, these convention centres tend to be located in the hearts of the major cities, next to existing concentrations of business hotels and restaurants and associated nightlife. They form a very significant part of the phenomenon of business tourism, one of the fastest-growing sectors in the global cities today, and one that is highly synergistic with the other growth sectors.
We can best summarize the economic structure of these cities in the following way. They are divesting very large areas of economic activity - manufacturing, goods-handling, routine services - to other cities, regions and countries. They are showing rapid growth in a relatively few related sectors: financial and business services, both financial and non-financial (including the fast- growing design services like architecture, engineering and fashion); command and control functions such as company headquarters, national and international government agencies, and the whole web of activities that grows around them; cultural and creative industries including the live arts and the electronic and print media; and tourism, both leisure and business (G.B. Government Office for London 1996; Landry and Bianchini 1995). These are highly synergistic. They cater simultaneously for local, national and international markets; the international business, though generally a minority share, is significant in providing an export base. Some but not all of them are now exhibiting productivity gains associated with the injection of information technology, which is producing jobless growth. They offer a wide range of job opportunities, but there is some tendency to polarization: on the one hand there are what Robert Reich (1991) has called the symbolic analysts, performing jobs that require high formal education, professional training and interpersonal skills; on the other, there is a wide range of semi-casual and low-paid work in personal services, which offer no career prospects and are often unattractive as an alternative to welfare payments (Wilson 1987, 1996).
A Global Urban Hierarchy?
The urban consequences of these processes can be treated at two separate though related levels: first, the national and international urban system, and the competition among cities at different levels of this system; second, the internal impacts on activity and land use patterns within each metropolitan area.
It is now a familiar point that cities increasingly tend to compete and to market themselves as attractive locations for inward investment. However, in this they are obviously constrained by a sense of realism as to possibilities. It is useful conceptually to distinguish three levels of city: international, or global; a category which we can term sub-global, especially prevalent in Europe; and regional.
I've already defined the global cities: they are cities whose business consists mainly in the production of specialized informational services, such as financial services, media services, educational and health services, and tourism including business tourism; but, following the central place schema laid down by Walter Christaller in the 1930s, they also perform lower-order functions for more restricted areas, notably at the national level, and indeed to their own local citizens. As I've suggested, they have lost certain functions during the 1970s and 1980s, either to their own peripheries, or to overseas locations; consequently, they have exhibited the paradox of substantial job losses in traditional sectors such as manufacturing, goods-handling and routine services, and large gains in others such as financial services and specialized business services. A major question for the 1990s is whether they are now exhibiting equally large losses of these latter functions also; certainly there have been job losses in both London and New York, in both cases accompanied by out-movements to other locations: in the case of London to provincial cities like Leeds, which has become a major centre fore the new electronic "direct banking" - it's said because people think their money is safe when they hear a Yorkshire accent on the phone - and in the case of New York to suburban back offices in the neighbouring states of New Jersey and Connecticut. What is significant is that both cities are producing greater volumes of product with a static or declining labour force: jobless growth, observable in the 1970s and 1980s in manufacturing, has now arrived in the service industries (G.B. Government Office for London 1996a, 1996b; Yaro and Hiss 1996).
The most interesting question concerns the relationship between the global cities and the next level in the hierarchy, above all here in Europe. For here, the only indisputable global city is London and, perhaps, Paris; you'll notice that these are the biggest urban agglomerations in mainland Europe outside Russia, or - to be slightly pedantic - the biggest monocentric agglomerations. Below them we find a rich array of national capital cities - Amsterdam, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo, Bonn/Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Dublin - as well as a number of rather special commercial cities which effectively perform as commercial or cultural capitals, such as Barcelona, Milan, Zurich, Geneva, and Frankfurt. They are all very characteristically one notch smaller: typically, their metropolitan areas have populations between about one million and four million. I'm going to call them sub-global. They effectively try to compete with the global cities, to some real effect in specialized sectors, such as Brussels and Rome and Geneva for government, Frankfurt and Zurich or Amsterdam for banking, or Milan for design. It's interesting that if you look outside Europe, you find that similar functions are performed by a very few American cities in relation to New York: Washington for government, Chicago and San Francisco for financial services, Los Angeles for culture and entertainment. And in Japan, Osaka performs a similar role in relation to Tokyo, especially as a trade centre. Here, however, because of the long political and economic union and homogenization of the country concerned, the regional cities perform a smaller role than their European equivalents.
Coming back to Europe, then: a major question is whether the Single Market and the impacts of the Maastricht treaty will progressively assist the higher-order cities at the expense of the lower national-order ones. Related to this is the question whether cities with a distinct function within the European Union - Brussels, Luxembourg and Frankfurt - will progressively assert their role at the expense of London and, to some extent, Paris. This is an open question; but it should be noticed that the Euro-cities form a tight inner circle surrounded by a wider group of national capitals - London, Paris and Amsterdam - forming what the EC's Europe 2000+ report calls the National Capitals Region -all within convenient radius for face-to-face contact by air and, increasingly, by high-speed train [which, on present plans, should connect all of them by approximately 2010]. So it seems certain that they will constitute an effective central core of the European urban system. In turn they will be connected by regular and frequent air services to a number of key regional cities which effectively form an outer ring some 500-700 kilometres distant: Copenhagen, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Milan, Madrid, Dublin, Edinburgh. These places will also be connected by high-speed train to cities within their own 500-kilometre radii: Milan with Turin and Venice and Bologna, Berlin with Hanover and Hamburg and Leipzig, Madrid with Seville and Barcelona - and will thus form the points of articulation between the European and the regional schemes of exchange.
Rather confusingly, with their typical population range of one to four million, these national capitals and commercial capitals overlap in size with the major provincial capitals of the larger European nation states: thus Manchester and Birmingham, Lyon and Marseille, Hannover and Stuttgart, Florence and Naples, Seville and Valencia. These places typically serve as administrative and higher-level service centres for mixed urban-rural regions, most though not all of them prosperous, and they have shown considerable dynamism even while they too have lost traditional manufacturing and goods-handling functions. Again there's a parallel: similar functions, of course, are performed by major American regional capital cities such as Boston, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Minneapolis, Denver and Seattle, as well as their Japanese equivalents such as Nagoya, Sendai and Kumamoto. These cities do not as a rule compete in any substantial respect, either nationally or still less internationally, with the higher-order cities, though they may occasionally occupy special market niches, such as Boston for financial services or Atlanta for media services. The important but subtle distinction is whether a city offers any significant presence or significant challenge at the global level; in this respect Brussels and Frankfurt and Milan, Chicago and Los Angeles, and Osaka can be said to act as global contenders in specially defined spheres, though not of course across the board, and so can best be defined as sub-global; Manchester and Munich and Copenhagen, Minneapolis and Denver, Sendai and Kumamoto, to take examples more or less at random, can not.
Moving Out: The Trend to Deconcentration
In order to understand the dynamics of the European urban system, we also need to understand what is happening within these mega-urban-regions. We all know the answer, I suppose: in the last forty years deconcentration, first of residences and latterly also of employment, has become a universal phenomenon, not merely in Europe but in virtually all the world's metropolitan areas: once unique to the Anglo-American-Australian group of cities, it has now become characteristic of the whole of western Europe and of Japan. And in the largest of these areas, the global and the sub-global cities, this process of deconcentration has become extremely complex, extending over very wide areas of territory in a dynamic process which results in a highly polycentric metropolitan system.
Broadly, one can say that down to about 1950 even the world's major cities had a much simpler pattern of living and working: there was a mass of white-collar employment in the centre, a wide [and increasing] ring of commuter suburbs outside, interspersed by industrial, port and warehouse areas with their own much more localized residential areas immediately next to them; the entire complex dependent primarily on public transport, plus walking and cycling for the most local journeys. Then, already in American cities before World War II but in European cities only on any scale from the 1960s, further residential suburbanization occurred outside the limits of effective public transport systems, and therefore dependent on the private car. At the same time employment began to decentralize, first routine assembly manufacturing in search of spacious premises close to highway systems; second R&D and associated small-batch high-technology production, which moved to high-amenity locations, often close to airports for international access; and third back offices performing routine processing applications for national headquarters firms, which moved to local suburban centres with ample local supplies of clerical labour; all accompanied of course by local service employment in shops, schools and other public and private services, dispersed across the region. And finally, in the late 1980s and 1990s, there was evidence from some American cities - not merely New York, which I've already mentioned, but also San Francisco and of course Los Angeles - of a more general exodus of even headquarters offices to suburban locations, apparently impelled in some cases by high local taxes.
The result in extreme cases, represented by London and New York and Los Angeles, is a pattern of extremely long-distance deconcentration stretching up to 150 kilometres from the centre, with local concentrations of employment surrounded by overlapping commuter fields, and served mainly by the private car. The precise spatial details vary from country to country according to culture and planning regime: in the United States, lower-density and less regulated with "Edge Cities" or "New Downtowns" on greenfield sites, exclusively accessed by the private car; in Europe, medium-density, regulated through green belts and other constraints, and centred on medium-sized country market towns or planned new towns (Garreau 1991). And the process has gone much further in some large metropolitan areas [for instance, London] than in others [for instance, Paris, where suburbanization has almost entirely been captured in the large new cities resulting from the 1965 regional master plan]. However, the general outward trend, both for population and employment, is universal. An interesting consequence has been accelerated growth in and around smaller country towns in the wider metropolitan orbit, especially those adjacent to major national highway and/or railway lines [that is, in the "transport-rich, city rich" sectors in the Lösch central place model]. Thus, in some cases there is a distinct tendency to linear corridor growth, as in the so-called M4 corridor west of London or the E4 Arlanda airport corridor north of Stockholm, both based on a combination of high-technology industry and back-office functions. Some regional plans, including the Stockholm plan of 1966 and the Paris plan a year earlier, made a deliberate attempt to guide development into such corridors; but the same phenomenon has occurred spontaneously in other cases, such as the I-405 "Aerospace Alley" in Los Angeles and Orange counties, or the "Dulles Airport Corridor" in the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. And some observers purport to see the development of even more extensive growth corridors connecting cities along highways and high-speed train lines, such as the "Dorsale" or "Blue Banana" of western Europe connecting London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Zurich and Milan (Hall et al 1973; Brunet 1989). East of London, the UK government's Thames Gateway proposal is a discontinuous series of urban developments following the planned new high-speed line from London to the Channel Tunnel: the first attempt to create such a corridor on a conscious basis (G.B. Thames Gateway Task Force 1994).
A vigorous debate has raged in the academic prints concerning the consequences of this process of deconcentration for commuter travel and thus for sustainable urbanization. One school, represented by Peter Newman and Jeffrey Kenworthy in Australia, has argued that low-density suburban deconcentration leads to substantially higher energy consumption; this has been supported in international work by Robert Cervero (Newman and Kenworthy 1989a, 1989b, 1992; Cervero 1985, 1989, 1995a, b, c). An opposite viewpoint comes from Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson, who argue that the entire process self-equilibrates: as jobs move out behind the homes, so local employment nodes and even a completely decentralised employment develop, leading to commute distances no longer than before (Gordon, Kumar and Richardson 1988, 1989a, 1989b, 1989c; Gordon and Richardson 1989; Gordon, Richardson and Jun 1991; Gordon and Richardson 1995, 1996). Brotchie and his colleagues in Australia report similar results for Australian cities (Brotchie, Anderson and McNamara 1995). And there is some evidence that this has occurred in the London region, as commuters have moved to more distant homes but then have found local jobs (Buck et al 1986). In part, the difference seems to arise because the two sets of authors are analysing different facets: it seems likely that density is related to energy consumption, but not in any simple or direct way; that decentralization of jobs does reduce aggregate travel compared with a pattern of central jobs and dispersed homes; but that more of this aggregate travel may then be made by car rather than by public transport, which is less energy-efficient (Daniels and Warnes 1980). And this is intuitively plausible, of course. It is interesting that in a careful analysis Breheny (1995a) concludes that the UK has moved marginally away from a pattern of sustainable urban development between 1961 and 1991, in terms of energy consumed in transport, but that the effect was not very substantial: maybe about 3 per cent.
Insubstantial or not, many planners and above all many politicians have recently become very agitated over this question. Following the European Commission's Green Paper of 1990, they all call for urban compaction. In fact compaction, or consolidation, seems to have become a kind of worldwide crusade in the 1990s. And the debate is given great urgency by the growth in household numbers. In the UK, official projections suggest that between now and 2016, just twenty years, we may have to find housing for some 4.4 million additional households in England alone - not because of population growth, which will remain reasonably modest, but because of changes in the composition of that population and also because of social changes - many more young people leaving home for higher education or first jobs, many more divorces and separations, more old people living longer but eventually getting widowed. Because of these trends, the remarkable fact is that nearly 80 per cent of the additional households will consist of just one person. To make it more daunting, two in five of the additional households, 1.64 million out of the 4.4 million, are expected to be in the South East region of England, precisely where there is already the most pressure, and the most controversy about new development.
The British government's answer, in a consultation paper of late last year (G.B. Secretary of State 1996), is to try to put 60 per cent of all new housing into the existing built-up areas. In a report published last summer, Michael Breheny and I doubted whether that would be either practically possible, or truly sustainable (Breheny and Hall 1996). However, I think there is a way of squaring this circle.
We can start, once again, by learning from history. If we do, we'll discover as usual that some very distinguished urbanists have been here before us. Ebenezer Howard's original garden cities, which he proposed exactly 99 years ago, were small units of some 30,000 people, developed at quite a high density but all in houses with gardens, and with locally mixed land uses which guaranteed that anyone could walk to anywhere in about ten minutes. But, an interesting twist, he proposed to combine them in clusters totalling about a quarter of a million people, all tied together by a light rail system: he called it the group of slumless smokeless cities, or social city. Today, the group of garden cities and new towns north of London - Hatfield, Welwyn, Stevenage, Letchworth - is such a social city. One important point about it is that both Howard, and the postwar new town planners, aimed to build their new settlements deliberately outside London's commuter range. They failed in that: the commuter belt moved out to meet them, and Welwyn developed as a commuter town even from the 1920s. But, when Ray Thomas made his celebrated analysis of London's new towns on the basis of the 1966 Census, he was able to show that they remained much more self-contained than equivalent older towns at similar distances from London (Thomas 1969). When Michael Breheny came to rework the figures twenty years later, he found that they were losing this characteristic: the London commuter belt had expanded into the territory they occupied, and beside there was a widespread growth of commuting as car ownership grew (Breheny 1990). It was partly because planners anticipated this fact that in the 1960s, a decade of huge population growth, when there was an intense debate about strategic planning in the South East, the planners put the Mark Two new towns much further from London: Milton Keynes 90 kilometres away, Northampton 120 kilometres distant, and Peterborough 130 kilometres from London. The notion was now to put them well outside the commuter belt, and also to make them even bigger, 200,000 or even 250,000, so that they could offer all the jobs and services that you would associate with a major provincial city; but with sacrifice of the walk-to- work principle, which rather got lost in those years when even planners worshipped at the altar of the automotive god.
In parallel, Scandinavian planners had been adopting versions of what in Copenhagen was called the finger plan: they put new settlement like beads on a string along public transport routes, in the case of Copenhagen a light rail system, in Stockholm a new underground railway. The most celebrated case was Stockholm, where the famous 1952 General Plan of Sven Markelius and Göran Sidenbladh developed systematic pyramids of density around the stations, and also provided service and other jobs in district centres around these same stations, with the idea that as many as one third would find jobs in the places where they lived (Hall 1992a; Hall 1997).
The morals we can draw from the history are pretty clear. First, grouping people and jobs close together in reasonably self-contained units, as Howard proposed and the British tried to do in their new towns after World War II, is a reasonable objective - particularly if, at a micro scale, homes and jobs were intermixed. Howard's intuitively-based size for his garden cities - 32,000 - was not bad in terms of transport sustainability, despite the fact that it was produced at a time when the motor car was a novelty, but it proved difficult to combine it with an adequate range of jobs and services. That of course was because everyone had forgotten the original Social City diagram. Second, it was also right to try to keep the new British towns outside the London commuting orbit, even if some commuted and more might later do so; you could keep the new towns quite self-contained on a day-to-day basis [and the evidence is that some at least of the commuters found local jobs after a while], while providing good access to London for less frequent business contacts, which have become more and more significant with the growth of service industry jobs and the decentralisation of back offices into the new towns. Finally, putting homes and jobs in patterns of high linear density along strong public transport spines, as the Swedes did in their Stockholm satellites of the 1950s and 1960s, is also right - especially if, again, some jobs were provided close to homes, as the Swedes tried to do, and if wide - in fact increasingly wide - green wedges are thus created between these corridors of urbanization. All represent partial answers, by no means mutually exclusive: but hardly any place seems to have combined them in a package.
We should also remember that the Mark One London new towns, and the Scandinavian satellites, were devised for a much poorer society, in which the majority of people would be renters of social housing provided by large monolithic agencies; they had no choice. Nor did they have much choice in transport, for car ownership levels were extremely low and expected to remain so. There is clear evidence that all the calculations of the Stockholm planners were upset by the rapid rise of car ownership in the 1960s. But this is coupled with the fact that Stockholm is a relatively small and compact city of only about a million and a half people. Even if people could be persuaded to continue to use the Tunnelbana for the radial journeys to the city centre, it made little sense for orbital journeys when they could get into their comfortable Volvos and use the ring road the planners had provided to get freight around the city. This suggests that the structure has to be more encouraging to public transport use, perhaps by eliminating as far as possible the need or desire for non-radial journeys. Even so, like the British new towns, the Stockholm satellites still work better than equivalent settlement forms in similar locations (Cervero 1995b, 1995c).
We can also look at current academic research. British geographers, interestingly, have established some kind of international lead in this topic: researchers like Susan Owens here at Cambridge, David Banister at UCL and Michael Breheny at Reading together make up a very formidable group (Banister 1992, 1993; Banister and Banister 1992, 1995; Banister and Button 1993; Breheny 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995a, b, c; Breheny, Gent and Lock 1993; Breheny and Rookwood 1993; Owens 1984, 1986, 1990, 1992 a, b; Owens and Cope 1992; Rickaby 1987, 1991; Rickaby et al 1992). And all this work seems to tell a very consistent story. Owens suggests that a sustainable urban form would have the following features. First, at a regional scale, it would contain many relatively small settlements; but some of these would cluster, to form larger settlements of 200,000 and more people. Second, at a sub-regional scale, it would feature compact settlements, probably linear or rectangular in form, and with employment and commercial opportunities dispersed to give a "heterogenous", i.e. mixed, land use pattern. Third, at the local scale, it would consist of sub-units developed at pedestrian/bicycle scale; at a medium to high residential density, possibly with high linear density, and with local employment, commercial and service opportunities clustered to permit multi-purpose trips. Her work strongly suggests that a cluster of small settlements may be more energy-efficient than one large one; the optimum upper limit would be 150,000-250,000; that linear or at least rectangular forms will be the most efficient; and that though densities should be moderately high, say 25 dwellings or 40 people per hectare, they need not be very high to be energy-efficient.
Michael Breheny and Ralph Rookwood come to very similar conclusions. They show theoretical illustrations of how to achieve sustainable urban development at different scales and in different geographical contexts. All of them feature settlements of different sizes, strung like beads on a string along public transport corridors which range from bus routes up to heavy rail systems. Again, there is a very strong similarity to what Danish and Swedish planners were attempting in the 1950s and 1960s. Thirdly, we can go to contemporary practice. In California Peter Calthorpe, an English emigré architect-planner, has proposed what he calls Transit Oriented Developments or TODs: walking- scale suburban developments around public transport stops, clustering some job and service opportunities at the nodes, and with high-density single-family housing built in traditional terraces with street parking (Kelbaugh 1989; Calthorpe 1993). Californians seem to like it; he has developed whole neighbourhoods in San Jose, the capital city of Silicon Valley, and his ideas have now been made a mandatory part of the General Plan for the state capital of Sacramento.
Recently, you in the Netherlands have taken a worldwide lead in trying to integrate land use and transport planning, within an environmental strategy, at a national level. Your fourth report (EXTRA), which you all know backwards, identifies a policy that aims to cope with growth pressures and to improve the quality of urban life and reduce car traffic in cities and urban regions, through an integrated approach encompassing traffic and transport policy, environmental policy and physical planning policy. The key is to concentrate residences, work areas and amenities so as to produce the shortest possible trip distances, most being possible by bicycle and public transport. So housing sites are being sought first in the inner cities, next on the urban periphery and only in the third place at more distant locations; wherever the sites are found, availability of public transport will be a key factor. Businesses and amenities are planned by relating their user requirements to location features. Those activities involving a large number of workers or visitors per hectare, such as offices oriented to the general public, theatres and museums, are rated A- profile, that is they should be located close to city-centre stations. B locations are those with both good station access and good access to motorways, making them suitable for access by both car and public transport; activities suitable for location here include hospitals, research and development, and white collar industry. C-locations, close to motorways, are suitable only for activities with relatively few workers and visitors per hectare and with a need for high accessibility by car or truck. Associated with this, the Report calls for integrated transport/land use planning so as to enhance the role of public transport, including restrictions on long-term parking places, associated with the provision of good public transport (Netherlands 1991).
I'm pleased to tell you that your approach is stimulating a great deal of interest and even imitation elsewhere in Europe (e.g. London Planning Advisory Committee 1994). But it might make equal or more sense to relieve pressure on the Randstad by promoting moderately-sized, moderate- density cities elsewhere in the Netherlands, outside the commute range - a policy of the 1960s, later abandoned. The reason I say this is that you have sent us a Dutch Ph.D. student who is looking at commuter distances in the Netherlands and in the UK, and is finding to his surprise that we seem to do better. It's a least possible, I fear, that in an age of high mobility the polycentric structure of the Randstad, which has been one of your strengths, may become a source of weakness: the cities are just a bit too close together for comfort. But I would also have to say, in fairness, that you give the greatest possible incentive to use public transport for commuting: rather remarkably, the Randstad is like Howard's social city but with all the units about thirty times the size.
There is an equally remarkable initiative coming out of the UK, which I already mentioned. The development framework for Thames Gateway, east of London, represents a new scale in thinking: a discontinuous development corridor more than 60 kilometres long, based on the new high-speed train link from London to the Channel Tunnel, which will have concentrations of employment around two planned stations, and with dense local rail travel in between. Further, it is so to speak insulated from the desire for non-radial trips: to the north the Thames provides an effective barrier, with no fixed crossing downstream of the M25 bridge-tunnel at Dartford; to the south, the Garden of England will remain a low-density agricultural area with few opportunities of any kind. It is essentially the thinking of Owens, Breheny and others, actually realised in a development plan. Within 15-20 years we should be able to see how well it performs in sustainability terms.
It relates to the new mid-1990s concept coming from London Transport: the Regional Metro, which might also be called a Regional TGV. Just as in the past transport has proved to be maker and breaker of cities, in Colin Clark's telling phrase, so here. The spatial impact will be quite different from traditional urban rail systems like the London Underground or Paris Metro or Stockholm Tunnelbana: it will be to telescope travel times to places in the critical range 100 to 130 kilometres from London. As in the Randstad, it could encourage long-distance commuting, which is hardly sustainable. But, given that there will be some long-distance commuting, it is preferable that it be on rail rather than on road. And all previous evidence suggests that urban development at distances like these will be relatively self-contained; further, many of the commuters will find local jobs within a few years. So we should base a new settlement strategy on this system. The key would be to link the regional TGV at key stations to local distributor transit systems, which might be light rail but might equally well be guided busway such as they have in Adelaide and Essen and now in Leeds, or unguided busway as in Ottawa. These systems would have a strongly linear form, which might be parallel to the regional TGV or might run at angles away from it; one useful form would connect two TGV stations by an indirect route. Bus transit systems have an advantage over light rail in that they can fan out in dendritic fashion to serve medium-density residential areas more widely spread out from the transit stops, as in Adelaide. In this, however, the important point would be to keep the linear emphasis, which encourages transit use, and at all costs to avoid land uses which encourage cross-trips. Along them, we would string clusters of mixed-use developments, typically with about 10-15,000 residents served by central service concentrations around the transit stations, and further grouped into linear or rectangular units with maximum populations of 200-250,000.
During the next two decades, several of these major initiatives in combining land use and transport policies will come to fruition. We shall be able to see how Calthorpe's notions of sustainable urbanism, and the Dutch ABC policies, and the British corridor approaches and regional metro are actually working - and we shall be able to study the development outcomes of the London regional metro with the very similar system now under construction around Stockholm. We shall also be observing the impacts of other transport innovations such as the remarkable ORBITALE system in the Ile-de-France, now nearing completion, and the LUTECE system which is planned to follow it; or the experiments in urban road pricing now under way in the bigger Norwegian cities, and soon to be introduced in Stockholm. Out of all this, I am convinced, we are going to develop approaches to sustainable urban development, in which - once again - European urbanists and planners will take the lead. It should be an exciting time.
VINEX and the Dutch situationby Ir Steef Buijs, project director National Spatial Planning Agency (RPD), The Netherlands
The Megacities Lecture by prof. Peter Hall was quite inspiring in many ways. It is not my place to give a reaction to all the various elements of its content. My contribution is to make a short statement to open the discussion. This statement will focus on two subjects: the hierarchy of cities, and the relation between urbanization patterns and sustainability. I didn't select these subjects at random. They relate clearly to my day-to-day work in the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, where I'm in charge of reviewing the so-called Vinex policy paper, after being involved in the original drafting of that paper about five years ago, as well as negotiating implementation agreements with local and regional governments.
The hierarchy of citiesIn what professor Hall was saying about urban hierarchy to me the most interesting part was the way he related the position of second order cities to the homogeneity of countries. In big countries, such as Japan or the United States, there are relatively few second order cities, while in politically divided Europe these cities are far more numerous and far more important. What will happen with ongoing unification? Will second order cities fall back or will some of these succeed in gaining a position at more or less the same level as the present first order cities of London and Paris? For The Netherlands there is a specific question arising from the particular spatial structure of the Randstad urban area. Do separate parts of the Randstad, none of them counting much more than about one million inhabitants, have to compete on a European level? Or can we claim that the area as a whole, with its present functions going beyond a mere national level, and with its total number of six or seven million inhabitants deserves a position in the European sub-top? And if we make this claim, will it help us to gain more wealth, and more interesting jobs, and better living conditions in general? We're not always sure that it will help, but still in our present policy we aim at strengthening the inner coherence of the Randstad, by improving infrastructure that covers the whole area, by developing the famous Green Heart as a kind of central park, and by maintaining the spatial contrast between the Randstad and the vast open areas that still are to be found outside the urban area.
The relation between urbanization patterns and sustainibilityNow I would like to turn to the second subject: the relation between urbanization patterns and sustainibility, the latter concentrating on reducing the use of private cars. Professor Hall gives a vivid picture of deconcentration processes at work all over the world, and in many cases starting a long time ago already. In The Netherlands too we have seen much of this process with really serious consequences for the vitality of the old cities. When preparing our Vinex paper, which professor Hall proves to know admiringly well, it was self- evident that we had to adopt a rather radical 'compact city' policy, in the same way other governments do in this decade. Now, however, in our present review of the Vinex paper a more critical approach seems to be called for. One gets the feeling that continuing urban fringe expansion will pass a threshold beyond which the compact city recipe will loose its effectiveness. Distances will become too long for walking or cycling and public transportation systems will offer good relations to the old city center only, not being able to cope with a modern relation pattern in which other city centers and sub-centers play an important role as well. For all these the private car is the only realistic alternative.
The Ministry of Transportation and Public Works, together with our Ministry have commissioned a study on this phenomenon to the TNO-INRO spatial research organization. According to our initial intuition, after a certain size has been reached, distance is no longer decisive but orientation is. This conclusion agrees completely with the research quoted by professor Hall. In this situation linear patterns work far better than continued concentric expansion. Two essential conditions have to be met, however. One concerns size and the other the mixture of functions of the settlements that make up the linear pattern. Old ideas of settlements falling entirely within walking distance (maximum 1km) from railway stations will lead to a one sided residential character with no capacity for sufficient employment and other than basic services. Such settlements will be entirely dependent on the old city and will generate an extremely large number of trips in that direction. A 200 to 250 thousand size for clusters of settlements, as is also mentioned by professor Hall, seems to be a minimum for a self containing system that will reduce rather than enlarge trips and mileage.
In the Randstad area we have to focus on zones between existing agglomerations for opportunities to develop new linear patterns of sufficient size. Not all of these are suited, for urban development, however. Sustainability has more aspects than reducing private car use. Preserving landscape and nature and providing recreational opportunities nearby are also objectives that have to be taken care of. In our Vinex review we give equal importance to both objectives, and as a result not all available intermediate zones are assigned to urban development. Those that are most valuable are kept green and open as part of the Green Heart/bufferzone system.
The second recommendation to bring commuting under control is setting up self-contained new towns well beyond commuting range. Sooner or later in this type of new town most residents will find a local job, thus compensating the smaller number of people still driving to the distant city. Professor Hall reminds of the Dutch urbanization policy of the Sixties in which this type of cities, situated in the so called 'halfway zone' was advocated. This has been a short-lived policy as it was overtaken in the Second Spatial Planning Policy Paper already by a policy favoring peripheral areas to the North and Southeast. Stimulating the periphery, more than 200 km distant from the Randstad, has never been very successful, while at the same time spontaneous migration to the halfway zone proved impossible to contain. This would not have been so bad (even good, if we follow professor Hall's preference) if not the migration were directed to small rural settlements rather than middle-size cities. This was residential migration only, with no employment to match, boosting long distance commuting at a terrifying rate. Even though the real cause did not lie in the migration to this zone as such, but in the type of settlements involved and in the lack of parallel employment growth, so called 'overspill' to the halfway zone earned a very bad name and became anathema for a long time, all through the Third Paper period, until the present day. But when we try to look at the phenomenon in a less emotional way, we will find that at least as one of the alternatives to be considered, development of the half way zone deserves a serious discussion again when formulating new long term spatial policies (an eventual Fifth Paper).
This is not to say, however, that overspill scenarios have to be adopted uncritically. In the first place the way overspill effects the vitality of cities in the Randstad has to be evaluated very carefully. In the second place one has to be aware of a spontaneous growth of cities in the halfway zone that is supported by its multi-oriented position between the Randstad and the same type of urban zones just over the Dutch border to the South and East. This spontaneous growth by itself may already put too much pressure on a vulnerable landscape and exceed the capacity of a relatively weak infrastructure. There is another reason for caution. Modem social developments, including a higher rate of movement between jobs (while still residing in the same place where one is rooted) and an increasing number of households in which more than one member holds a job (and not nessicarily in the same place), are stimulating the use of private cars again, threatening to bring this at still a higher level. Inside the Randstad this might be seen clearly in the recent development of congestion problems. It may happen as well in the halfway zone, annihilating any positive effect of self-contained cities that may have been reached previously.
To conclude, I would like to turn to the last ingredient of professor
Hall's recipe for sustainable urban development: the establishment of
corridors along regional metro or TGV lines. Surely this will offer the
answer to long distance crisscross movements that are causing our present
congestion problems. In our review of Vinex, and also in a mid term investment
policy that will be discussed in our Cabinet soon, we try to adopt this
answer and make it work, first in the Randstad and then also in the halfway
zone. In the Randstad we will use the new TGV-Iines to France and Germany,
together with existing intercity trains between major city centers and
Schiphol airport, to serve as a backbone for this corridor type of urban
development. And we will extend the system towards Gelderland and Brabant,
the main provinces of the halfway zone.