Is Miami World Class?

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.

More Info from the Brookings Institute


Filed under BoB Articles, The Big Picture

16 responses to “Is Miami World Class?

  1. Ernesto

    even though many tell me im fantycizing I tell them no matter what they say I will follow my dream which is to make cities like miami a better place, i believe it should be a world ranked city, noticing this is also depends on DENSITY well look on wikipedia and miami is more densly populated than l.a and not to far from # 1 in the chart and its have world #1 port in the world, and has many influences that could make it a better place to visit and to reside, i dont want to be biast so I have to say is has its flaws such as the fact that 49.9 percent of the houshold income is used for owner ship making it most expensive city in u.s so the real estate is not so good right now but it will see better and also is does not have many parks, but it is the second city in the world with most construction and I believe that too make part of the world class ranking and its skyline is 3 only to N.Y and chicago. it is the biggest metropolitan area in the southern u.s and 7th in the u.s with 5,463,857 and its density is of 11.5 thousand people/sq mi
    compared to new york with only 8,205/ sq mi and people have the nerve tosay…it doesnt have the right to be world city…some nerve…

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  2. Ernesto

    in the comment on top i mean los angeles with 8,205

  3. Miami is most definitely a wolrd class city, not just because of the present, but because ofthe future too. In other words, if one pays attention to how the city changes on a regular basis, it is unmatched. Conde Nast has it ranked as one of their top 10 “It locations” in the world, saying it is the only city with the incredible knack to maintain its personality as well as constantly reinvent itself.

    I am not from Miami, I am from Toronto, a city according to Wikipedia that has a 9-point rating, which I think it deserves, but if you compare Toronto to Miami, when Toronto was at Miami’s mature stage that it is now (probably in the 50’s) it is no comparison.

    So by the time Miami is given the chance to mature, the way those “other cities” have, we will see a huge up turn.

    Furthermore, no other city has the convenient geographical location and fantastic climate. No matter what, Toronto can ever get Miami weather.

    Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and the ride will be fun.

    • Ah yes, Chicago. The city with big shoulders. That tddilon’ town. The Windy City. And the famous home of SOBCon!I thought I couldn’t love this city any more than I did. I was wrong. How can you not love a city that now holds not only the sights you so wonderfully captured, but some of the fondest memories of my life?Thanks for being a big part of those memories. Until the next time, all the best!Terry

  4. BillyBlow

    Is Miami a world class city? Depends on who you ask. Doesn’t matter much to me. In what other top-10 metro in America can I go jet-skiing in January?

  5. Pingback: One Year Later « Boom or Bust: Miami

  6. AJ Reddy

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Miami to death. But that does not mean I will sing its praises without question. We have a long way to go before becoming a world class city. Jetsking in Jan does not count.

    1) We need more direct connections to Europe/Asia. Right now, I got to go to New York to get on a flight to India via Europe. 2) We need more metro rail network. Miami has one of the worst traffic I see in any city in USA. 3) Probably the only major city in America, where the airport is disgustingly underserved by public transport. Buses are very rare and there is no train link to get there. How sorry is the fact that there is not even a direct bus between the airport and Miami’s no.1 tourist attraction ie. South Beach! You got to spend an hour and half changing buses to get to South Beach or reverse. Is this what a world class aspiring city supposed to do to its visitors and residents? (Unless there is a conspiracy by the elected officials and the Miami-Dade Transport to give the Taxi Drivers undue advantage for some reason)

    • Wow, I have been to Chicago several times but never saw it in this way! Joanna your algioanes are powerful and inspiring. I cannot wait to read and see more. I had not idea you were also such a talented photographer! Well done!

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  7. Justin

    Miami is far from a world city. That density information is way off. Miami is no where near #1. Not to mention that density is not a good argument. Construction? That could mean that the city is in need of development.

    Miami is prime for collaspe

  8. Pete

    It seems Justin is from Tampa. Aside from Chicago and NYC, there aren’t too many impressive skylines in the country. Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, L.A., San FRancisco, are a few to name. A few of these cities have taller buildings but few of them are as well positioned and fast growing as Miami’s skyline. Miami lacks on several fronts, which the article and a couple of the comments mention, but that’s not to say that it’s prime for collapse.

    • Karen (Swim) I’m not or at least I don’t think I am. See my reply to Amy!I do like drawing angioales though, and once or two occurred to me it was fun looking through the photo set and looking for more. Made me think differently about blogging too.Joanna

  9. dave

    In order to realize it’s full potential, Miami needs more urban and neighborhood Parks, more Metrorail (75 miles more,at least), better public schools and revolutionary change in it’s political leadership (which is a prerequisite to the first 3)

    That said, yes, it is a world class city, with lots of growing pains…these, however, are the problems of success, not failure….

    The glaring needs mentioned above will cost Miami many opportunities in the future if they are not addressed, Metrorail
    being the most long-standing need……

  10. JR

    The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has almost a million more residents than Miami-South Florida, albeit at a much lower density.

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