New Chicago Council Book Defines Global Cities Ahead of Chicago Forum

May 21, 2015
As leaders from global cities around the world prepare to converge at the inaugural Chicago Forum on Global Cities May 27-29, the concept, context and definition of global cities remain relatively unexplored. In a new book, “On Global Cities,” Richard C. Longworth, distinguished fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, takes a fresh and focused look at global cities — what they are, why they are special, what makes them global, how they emerged and where they are going.
“In this new global economy, global cities almost literally run the world,” said Longworth. “Everybody talks about them, and all cities want to be one. But not many people know what global cities are, what they do, how they differ from the industrial cities of old. In this book, I’ve tried to take the latest thinking on global cities and present it clearly for readers whose futures — like most of ours — lie in these cities.”
“On Global Cities,” available today also through Amazon, iTunes and Google Play, synthesizes the latest literature on the nascent field of global cities. Longworth’s work traces the emergence of global cities through globalization and defines the essential elements required to make a city global in nature. It further illuminates the relationships between global cities and their more locally focused neighbors, showcasing the “high fliers” along the way and diagnosing ills of the modern global city.
At the first-ever Chicago Forum on Global Cities, co-hosted by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Financial Times, luminaries from the four pillars of global cities — business, arts and culture, education and civics — will come together to discuss the path forward in the evolving world of global cities.
“The study of global cities is new, scattered and generally scant,” said Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder, president of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. “Longworth’s ‘On Global Cities’ provides a solid foundation for building a common understanding of how to think about global cities — and the complex challenges like security, privacy, scarcity, inequality, immigration and other issues that are frequently manifested in these cities. His book offers anyone in a position to influence the direction of global cities a valuable resource when charting new ways for these cities to engage successfully with the world beyond their boundaries.”
The term “global cities” was popularized in 1991 by scholar Saskia Sassen, who will be speaking at the Chicago Forum. Since then, a proliferation of global city rankings and other resource materials have sought to define global cities. This book significantly broadens that discussion.
“Global cities are where the action is, for better and for worse,” said Longworth. “They have the global business connections and distinguished universities, the best orchestras and top restaurants. They drive the world’s economy and generate its fads and culture. But they also are ground zero for global problems — from terrorism to climate change, traffic in drugs and human beings and the increasing inequalities playing out on their streets. How they cope with these pathologies will determine all of our futures.”
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is grateful to the Robert R. McCormick Foundation for its generous support of the Global Cities Project.
About Richard C. Longworth
Richard C. Longworth is a distinguished fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Before joining the Council, he was a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and United Press International. He is the winner of two Overseas Press Club awards, including an award for a series on globalization. He is the author of two books on globalization, a co-author of the Council book “Global Chicago,” and the former executive director of The Chicago Council‘s Global Chicago Center.