International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities
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International Handbook of Globalization and World Cities

Edited by Ben Derudder, Michael Hoyler, Peter J. Taylor and Frank Witlox

This Handbook offers an unrivalled overview of current research into how globalization is affecting the external relations and internal structures of major cities in the world.
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Chapter 2: Historical World City Networks

Peter J. Taylor


Peter J. Taylor INTRODUCTION: BEYOND ‘GREAT CITIES’ The modern world is a world of great cities, first recognized as industrial cities in the nineteenth century (Weber, 1899) and most recently identified as world cities (Friedmann, 1986) or global cities (Sassen, 1991). These latter cities constitute a major subject of this volume on cities in globalization and I focus historically on the more important cities in the world in this chapter. The justification for this brief excursion into past urban worlds has been rehearsed in many different contexts many times. Contemporary cities are exciting manifestations of contemporary society and appear to be very new in many different aspects. And this is important and will be elaborated in detail in subsequent chapters. But these world or global cities are also doing things that cities have done since cities were invented. In other words there is a generic base to all cities that should not be neglected in celebrations of the present. World or global cities are first and foremost cities; we need to understand this before explicating their specific world or global characteristics. The latter – the globality of cities – is a particular feature of modern cities and therefore for my historical perspective I use the term ‘world cities’ only; I provide a generic definition of this term below. There are many studies that celebrate the great cities of the past, and two recent volumes are especially enlightening. Peter Hall (1998) in his magnus opus Cities in Civilization is concerned for the ‘unique...

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