My friend K. said something interesting last week about Toronto. She doesn’t get why some people/groups are obsessed with Toronto becoming recognized as a “world class” city. She said: “it’s not like we all get a special little prize when we become a world class city.”

London, Tokyo, Paris and New York are world class cities. And from what I’ve been reading, we’re just a second-tier world class city.

  1. Alpha world cities / full service world cities:
    • 12 points: London, New York City, Paris, Tokyo
    • 10 points: Chicago, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Milan, Singapore
  2. Alpha world cities / full service world cities:
    • 9 points: San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, Zürich
    • 8 points: Brussels, Madrid, Mexico City, São Paulo
    • 7 points: Moscow, Seoul

K. has a point. I don’t need to live in an Alpha city, I just like to visit them — I just want to live in a city with an excellent public transit system and a revitalized waterfront. Imaginative architecture and a respect for preserving our historic treasures would be nice too. And while we’re at it, we should think about urban sprawl and community sustainability issues.


  1. Coming from a World Class City (London) and living in a “Beta” City (Toronto) I often wonder about this. There’s nothing wrong with not being a WCC, but although I love Toronto I don’t think it should be striving to be another London, necessarily. I live downtown – right on the Harbour and I work downtown (Bay St) so transportation is never really a problem for me… until I need to go outside where the TTC goes. Fortunately I can afford to take cabs – whereas I hardly ever do when I’m in London because the transport system is excellent. If Toronto improved it’s transport infrastructure by even 20%, it would make such a huge difference. In 2007 – one line that goes N/S and another E/W, and old streetcars really aren’t enough, particularly as more people are ditching the suburbs in favour of living downtown (or at least mid-town). Still, with the budget cuts and no increased funding for the TTC, who knows? Doesn’t bode well, which is a pity.

  2. I agree. Toronto should not be striving to become another London or New York but we really need to do something about public transit.

    I envy your commute. My TTC experience is routinely a nightmare as the King streetcar line is far too overextended. I’m of two minds about the possibility of the Province taking over the TTC. There are pros and cons to be sure…

  3. I have visited 14/20 of the cities listed and although I am not clear on criteria used on the list – Kuala Lumpur would have to be on the Alpha list somewhere. My friend Dave would also make an argument for Owen Sound.

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