Does Miami fulfill world class criteria? What criteria would Miami have to meet? What source(s) does one rely on for information? All of these are intriguing questions that merit consideration.
Wikipedia has an interesting set of criteria for being considered a world class city, although it seems to come from the Globalization and World Cities Study Group. The criteria includes: City population, metropolitan population, percentage of foreign-born residents, expatriate cost of living, metro system ridership, passenger air traffic, number of billionaire residents, and gross metropolitan product.
On Wikipedia’s chart of global cities, Miami only appears in one of the criterion columns. It is number one on the “foreign-born” segment. Other U.S. cities included on the list are New York City (appearing in 6 of the 8 columns), Los Angeles (appearing in 4 columns), and Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia (appearing in 1 column each).
There are other factors such as skyline height averages and density. You’ll be pleased to know that Miami’s skyline ranks third in the U.S. behind NYC and Chicago (18th in the world) according to the 2006 Almanac of Architecture and Design. The presence of monuments tend to contribute to a city’s global and cultural status (Miami has none). Seaports are another important factor (Miami’s is the most busy cruise ship port in the world). Not surprisingly, major cultural and learning venues as well as major parks and public spaces (plazas) are factored in to the set of criteria. Thank heavens for the Museum Park plans and the newly completed PAC.
Wikipedia goes on to describe different classes of world class cities on a 12 point and letter scale (alpha, beta, gamma). NYC is the only U.S. city ranked Alpha with 12 points. Los Angeles and Chicago, also considered Alpha, have 10 points. San Francisco, considered Beta, ranks fourth with 9 points. The remaining U.S. cities are ranked Gamma: Boston, Houston, Dallas, and Washington D.C. each have 6 points. Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Miami end the U.S. list with 4 points each.
Miami lacks in public transportation, public spaces and parks, cultural and learning venues, as well as monuments. The Magic City does have a strong showing with its port, international airport, and foreign-born population. As it stands, America’s southernmost metropolis will increase its standing with Museum Park and the new Cesar Pelli-designed Performing Arts Center. The city’s population is increasing significantly as well. Miami International Airport will increase air traffic and traveler conveniences with a $5.2 billion expansion. Traffic flows are going to be less clogged due to billions in highway and road improvements.
The most encouraging sign of Miami’s growing preeminence is its booming skyline. Currently ranked in the world’s top 20 skylines and expected to climb even further up the list. There is no doubt that Miami is on the world class track. In fact, it is evident that the city fulfills the fundamental requirements for being considered world class at the present time. Inexplicably, there are many that doubt this claim. The Banana Republic stigma is not easily shaken off.