Deciding which city is the biggest in the world may be a difficult task. Do we define it by the size of the population or by its land area or by the population density? Is a city defined by its contiguous area, its functional area or by its administrative reach? Do we take into account suburban settlements and other populated areas outside the city’s legal boundaries?
Various criteria have been used, and different cities have tried to claim the title of being the world’s biggest. Searching for it on the Internet will yield answers as disparate as Tokyo in Japan, Davao City in the Philippines, Mexico City in Mexico, Mumbai in India, and even Hulunbuir in Inner Mongolia.
So let us try analyzing which city does deserve the title of being the biggest in the world using real, tangible and consistent criteria. We should not base it on a city’s population or density number, because the number may be skewed and different during the evening and on weekends. We do not want to bestow it on a city that would give up the title once business hours are over when a significant portion of the population move back to their residences outside the city limits.
Instead, let us use a city’s actual land area. Cities in the United States dominate this list, with the notable exception of Tokyo. Tokyo’s numbers are usually combined with that of Yokohama’s because of the their proximity and contiguity. But even if the area of Tokyo and Yokohama are added up, their combined 6,993 square kilometer still pale in comparison to New York Metropolitan Area, the biggest city in the world with total land area of 8,683 square kilometers.
The Big Apple
New York is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere. The New York Metropolitan Area officially consists of the five boroughs of New York City, namely Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island; Long Island and lower Hudson Valley in New York state; Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Clifton, Trenton and Elizabeth in New Jersey; Bridgeport, Danbury, Norwalk, New Haven, Stamford and Waterbury in Connecticut; and Pike County in Pennsylvania.
Ethnic diversity is a hallmark of New York. It has the biggest Jewish community outside of Israel. It is also home to the largest concentration of people with Indian and Italian descent in the United States. There are also six Chinatowns in the region to cater to the needs of the largest population of overseas Chinese outside of Asia.
In addition, the New York Metro region has the largest African-American population and second largest Hispanic community in the whole country. A fifth of all American Indians reside in the area, as well as 15 percent of all the Korean Americans in the United States.
New York is a center of international diplomacy, with the United Nations headquartered in the area. International banks also abound in the area, making it a truly global city. Its main industries include finance, real estate, manufacturing, tourism and media. The gross product that the city produces is greater than a lot of countries in the world.
New York Metro is also the home of several of the most prestigious educational institutions in the world. It is the largest school district in the United States. Several Ivy League schools, namely, Columbia, Yale and Princeton are in the area. Highly regarded non-Ivy League universities are also there, like Fordham, New York University and Rockefeller University.
The area is also known for its highly complex and efficient public transportation system. its subway system is open 24 hours and is the largest in the world in terms of distance between destinations and number of stops and stations.
Culture and Sports
Often described as the cultural capital of the world, the region boasts of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the largest museums in the world. It is part of the ten museums that comprise the Museum Mile along Fifth Avenue. It stretches all the way from 82nd to 105th Streets, and the actual distance is actually two blocks longer than one mile.
Those who love the theater will also have fun in the Theatre District in Manhattan. There are 40 professional theater groups in the area and it is known to produce the highest level of commercial theater in the world. Last year, the industry contributed to the city’s economy by selling more than a billion dollars worth of tickets for its different shows.
The headquarters of all the four major sports in North America are also located here. While there are areas in the United States struggling just to get a team in their city, the New York Metro area is not only represented in all four major sports, they also have at least two teams competing in each one. The Knicks and Nets ply their basketball skills in Manhattan and Brooklyn respectively; the Giants and Jets throw the pigskin in East Rutherford in New Jersey; the Rangers, Devils and Islanders hit the puck in Manhattan, Newark and Nassau; and the Yankees and Mets round the bases in the Bronx and Queens.
A major tennis event, the US Open, is also played annually in Flushing Meadows in Queens. All the major stars of the sport congregate for this prestigious competition that is the last of the four Grand Slams up for grabs for the year.
The area is also the largest media market in North America. Two of the three national dailies are based in New York, namely the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Even the biggest alternative paper, the Village Voice, is based in the city.
All the four major American networks, namely ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox, are headquartered in the area. The biggest cable networks, like HBO, MTV and Comedy Central also have their main offices there.
A lot of things are happening in New York Metro. As Sinatra once sang, it is the city that never sleeps, which is just appropriate for the biggest city in the world.