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Stamp. Big City. Feb 2019


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The first issue of Stamp, Big City, is all about London. A look at the Westfield empire, inequality in the city, a bit of history, and some stats on how London and the UK measure up to other world cities.

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Stamp. Big City. Feb 2019

  1. 1. Big City Stamp. February 2019.
  2. 2. Photo by Jake Hinds on Unsplash Welcome to London A BRIEF INTRODUCTION For thousands of years London has been a bustling port and fast- growing city, filled with people from all over the world. Its history is rich and brutal. From a distant outpost of the Roman empire it became the seat of a huge empire itself. A tourist attraction and global financial centre, the fact London's future is in jeopardy hasn't stopped people arriving in their millions to visit and in their thousands to stay. 
  3. 3. There's a lot to do and see and buy in London. But it's mostly a two hour round trip to get there - wherever it is, everything seems to take the same amount of time - and goodness forbid you want to buy a sandwich or a cup of coffee once you get there.  I arrived six years ago and I'm just about getting to grips with moving here. With being here.  So welcome to London. Big City is the inaugural issue of Stamp, dedicated to unravelling some of the complications of London. Frustratingly there's no clear way to tell how many of the British-born people living in London were born in London itself or arrived in London from elsewhere in Britain. My totally anecdotal view is that this number is high - including myself, my family, many friends, colleagues, and neighbours. We are of all ethnicities and British nationality but ended up in London. There's no guidebook for arriving in London. For tourists there are the shiny hotspots but once the wide-eyed newcomer effect wears off there's a grimness that I found it hard to move on from. London is dirty. London is vast. London is expensive.
  4. 4. Modern-style immigration control began in 1905, prompted by a perceived growth in the number of Eastern European Jews arriving in London fleeing persecution by the Russian Empire. Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash
  5. 5. NothingiscertaininLondon butexpense. WILLIAM SHENSTONE 1715-1763
  6. 6. The first time I went it was quiet, calm, and very civilised. "I could get used to this," I thought. I don't know what witchcraft had the place under its spell because of course every time since it has been chaos.  My sister asked one of the kids in her class where they were going at the weekend. "Big City!" he breathed dramatically, suffused with awe. He was referring to Westfield Stratford City.  And for a little kid, it's easy to see why he would call it that. There's playgrounds, shops, places to eat, the cinema... For a child, it must seem like a pretty great microcosm. And for adults it's convenient. It doesn't have any of the essential services of a city but it does have banks, hairdressers, and all manner of retailers. For parents, there are better facilities than you might find elsewhere - childcare options, child-friendly places, and truly great baby changing rooms. It's easy to get to.  It's also soulless. It looks like the other Westfield, it looks like all the other upscale shopping centres - or they look like it. The floors are always shiny, the lights are always bright. There are the essential "anchor" shops at either end - the big brands positioned so people can orient themselves by them.  It's not an idyll for the retailers. It's a seductive promise of an idyll for shoppers but often a crowded, stressful experience. Big City AN ENCOUNTER WITH WESTFIELD Image shamelessly stolen from Google.
  7. 7. Westfield is part of the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield group, a Paris-based commercial real estate firm. The Westfield portion is originally Australian and recently came onboard. The group has assets across Europe and North America, making it Europe's largest property firm thought to be worth around $72 billion. 159 properties including 93 shopping centres. Across 13 countries. With 1.2 billion annual visits.
  8. 8. 700,000 children live in poverty in London, 37% of all kids in the city. Photo by Piron Guillaume on UnsplashTrust For London
  9. 9. Finding Your Creative Niche | CHC 2020 There are, in fact, two ways about it: London is one of the richest, most prosperous cities on earth, with a huge amount of resources, assets, and incredibly wealthy people. It's also home to some of the most impoverished people in the country, many of the most deprived areas in the country, staggering levels of inequality and suffering, and heartbreaking child poverty. Two Cities However, the bleaker side of that picture seems to be changing for the better. 2015 statistics on the English indices of deprivation  show that the top five most rapidly improving areas - the areas with the biggest reduction in deprivation from 2010 to 2015 - are all London boroughs. Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham, and Haringey were all in the 20 most deprived areas in the country in 2010 but are not in 2015. (The fifth borough being Greenwich, which wasn't in the lower 20.) This is great but there is a cloud to the silver lining. Firstly, this is all relative deprivation. Secondly, it doesn't do much for the people in those boroughs who do live in poverty - children who will carry the repercussions their whole lives, the stress and health effects for adults, disabled and other more vulnerable people. They are unlikely to be celebrating the borough's wins when their individual lives remain the same. Thirdly, having lived in Tower Hamlets I can confirm Tower Hamlets is a very strange borough, encompassing the neighbourhoods of Whitechapel with its predominantly Bangladeshi population and Canary Wharf, home of the skyscraping financial services. It's projected to be the fastest growing borough in the years to come. Huge housing developments in Canary Wharf bringing in bankers and their bonuses reflect little on the lives of everyone else. 
  10. 10. The area of Tower Hamlets I most frequented, and still do, is the Whitechapel-Shadwell-Wapping strip. Whitechapel on the north end is huge, bustling and runs down to Commercial Road where there is a two-block depth of Shadwell. Over The Highway you enter Wapping, where the street litter disappears, there are more parks, and quiet reigns. All Tower Hamlets. Whitechapel looks set for a wave of gentrification sweeping down from Shoreditch. Shadwell has new housing developments and a sharp divide between the largely white newcomers to London from the rest of the UK and Europe, with the London-born Bangladeshi population mostly living in the nothing short of US-style housing projects of council and social housing literally set back from the roads and hidden away.  A rising tide lifts all ships and while I do believe that it's also easy, and perhaps healthy, to maintain some scepticism. How much do the bankers and the young professionals really contribute? Not enough, my answer has to be.  Tower Hamlets seems to me a microcosm of London overall, and of London to the rest of the UK. How much do the London elites, billionaires, aristocrats, contribute to the troubles of the capital? Not enough. How much does the vast wealth of London contribute to the rest of the country? Not enough. 50% of London's wealth is owned by the richest 10% of its households. The bottom 50% own just over 5%. English Indices of Deprivation 2015 Photo by Collins Lesulie on Unsplash
  11. 11. Second Cities LONDON VS THE REST OF THE COUNTRY Commentators like to say Brexit was a strike against the political elite in London by forgotten and left-behind towns in the rest of the country. The previous years general election would have been a far more appropriate time for such a display. And on Brexit, London has been leading the resistance. Under Sadiq Khan's mayorship the insistence that London is open for business, open to all, and a welcoming and diverse metropolis has been a beacon of hope for many. Other large cities that voted to remain have an example to follow. The North-South divide is one thing but in socioeconomic terms it's more the South East-Rest of the Country divide. In political terms, the London elite are seen as distant from the rest of the country. And, bizarrely, London is seen as a land of wealthy bankers.  There are attempts to redress this balance. The shift of institutions like the BBC and ITV to the burgeoning medialand of Salford have been very successful. Attempts at more regional government have been less so. It's always been my experience that the rest of the UK has a certain level of animosity to London. Which I've always found perfectly legitimate as I also believe London (as some sort of monolith) has a certain level of disdain for the rest of the country.
  12. 12. To me, part of this issue felt like the fact London is so much larger than other UK cities. But I had no idea whether that was normal. So let's find out. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
  13. 13. Second cities and their capitals Thailand Peru Angola Argentina Philippines Afghanistan South Korea Chile France Indonesia DR Congo Bangladesh Kenya Malaysia Greece Mexico Zambia Zimbabwe Iran Iraq UK 40 30 20 10 0 millionspopulation Population of the capital city in lighter green, the second largest city in darker. Ordered by percentage difference. Phuket, Thailand, is just 5% the size of capital Bangkok. The Greater Manchester area is 25% the size of London. Only 21 countries have second cities less than 25% the size of the capital.
  14. 14. Country Thailand Peru Angola Argentina Philippines Afghanistan South Korea Chile France Indonesia Dem Rep Congo Bangladesh Kenya Malaysia Greece Mexico Zambia Zimbabwe Iran Iraq UK Capital, pop millions Bangkok, 15.975 Lima, 11.355 Luanda, 7.560 Buenos Aires, 15.520 Manila, 24.650 Kabul, 3.980 Seoul-Incheon, 24.210 Santiago, 6.350 Paris, 10.980 Jakarta, 32.275 Kinshasa, 12.350 Dhaka, 17.425 Nairobi, 5.765 Kuala Lumpur, 7.820 Athens, 3.470 Mexico City, 20.565 Lusaka, 2.920 Harare, 2.255 Tehran, 13.945 Baghdad, 7.135 London, 10.585 Second city, pop millions Phuket Arequipa, 0.890 Lubango, 0.685 Cordoba, 1.620 Cebu, 2.635 Kandahar, 0.555 Busan, 3.225 Valparaíso, 0.890 Lyon, 1.665 Bandung, 5.945 Mbuji-Mayi, 2.280 Chittagong, 3.400 Mombasa, 1.235 Johor Bahru, 1.810 Thessaloniki, 0.820 Guadalajara, 4.830 Kitwe, 0.675 Bulawayo, 0.540 Mashad, 3.535 Mosul, 1.840 Manchester, 2.705 % 5 7 9 10 10 13 13 14 15 18 18 19 21 23 23 23 23 23 25 25 25 By contrast... Melbourne is 98% the size of Sydney. Mumbai is 85% the size of Delhi. Kumasi is 76% the size of Accra. Barcelona is 75% the size of Madrid. Los Angeles is 72% the size of New York. Onitsha is 56% the size of Lagos. Montreal is 54% the size of Toronto. Abu Dhabi is 46% the size of Dubai. St Petersburg is 30% the size of Moscow. These are the largest cities, but are not capital cities. Many other countries including Italy, Morocco, South Africa, UAE, the Netherlands, Germany, and Israel have cities or urban areas larger than their capital according to this data. The report shows only cities over a population of 500,000. Some countries only have one city of that size, some have none. So these results are only accurate as far as what is included in the report, my own maths, and my own competence. Source: Demographia World Urban Area Report 2018 (PDF)
  15. 15. City London Manchester Birmingham Leeds-Bradford Glasgow Southampton-Portsmouth Liverpool Newcastle upon Tyne Nottingham Sheffield Bristol Belfast Leicester Edinburgh Population 10,585,000 2,705,000 2,565,000 1,985,000 1,240,000 905,000 885,000 805,000 775,000 720,000 670,000 620,000 555,000 505,000 % of London - 25 24 18 11 8 8 7 7 6 6 5 5 4 World rank 35 186 204 273 424 581 599 645 672 736 802 856 966 1050 Hang on a minute... Yes, these figures are different than others you may have seen. The data on exactly how big cities are is surprisingly complicated. Which suburbs or satellite towns should be included? How to count independent towns subsumed by urban sprawl? Some cities have been lumped together. In a practical sense Leeds and Bradford are one large urban area. In a cultural sense it might not feel that way. At the latest estimate there are 66 million people living in the UK. While the numbers won't match exactly because of different sources and newer figures we can guess that about 55 million of them don't live in London, 84% of the population. The 14 cities listed here contain 25,520,000 people - 38% of the UK population. There are complications too. Generally Birmingham is been seen as the UK’s second city. And is larger by some measurements. But shouldn’t the "second city" title belong to Edinburgh, our second capital? Except here Belfast is the larger of the union's capitals. Conclusions? Yes, London is a good deal bigger than other UK cities. This is definitely on the more unusual end of the spectrum. What else does it mean? No idea.
  16. 16. Stunning visualisations of data on ethnicity from the 2011 census. Wikipedia: Demography of London
  17. 17. Links and resources LONDON'S HISTORY My favourite museum here is the Museum of London Docklands. Located in a former warehouse in East India Dock. LONELY LONDON London is one of the loneliest cities in the world. I built Find Your Friendly to find events, groups and hobbies to meet in-person and make London a bit less lonely. BEST OF LONDON Creative types should have a look at Creative Mornings - a breakfast lecture series for the creative community. TRUST FOR LONDON Trust For London are tackling poverty and inequality in the capital. They have independent data, publications, funding, and campaign on these issues. A Population History of London. One of my favourite places in London? The horological gallery at the Science Museum. TLF Travel Alerts has all your surrealist spoof tube updates covered. For the country as a whole the Bank of England has a thousand years of population statistics. CHILD POVERTY ACTION GROUP Is working for families in the UK where one in four children live in poverty.
  18. 18. Thank you for reading Stamp. SIGN UP FOR THE NEXT ISSUE OF STAMP GET IN TOUCH Frances Foster WRITTEN BY Cover and this photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash