Comparing Density in Cities

LSE Cities is an ambitious project focussed on how the design of cities impacts society, culture and the environment. As part of their mandate they are releasing some visually compelling work, like the  chart below. 




I enjoy the program emphasis on highlighting the diversity of cities and built form around the world. The chart above is an excellent sample of how each cities unique topographical constraints, systems of public transport and infrastructure, and traditions of urban culture and development shape residential densities. As LSE Cities writes

Density differs widely, from the high densities of Hong Kong, Mumbai and central areas of Istanbul and Shanghai to the much lower density pattern of London. Johannesburg shows limited areas of higher density set around a downtown that no longer has a residential population, in the midst of a very low-density sprawl. Istanbul, New York and Hong Kong show how topographical constraints drive densities that rise to ‘spikes’ in Manhattan and parts of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens in New York, and in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon in Hong Kong. São Paulo is multi-centred and similar in its overall density pattern to Mexico City, yet São Paulo’s skyline is dominated by high-rise apartment blocks, while Mexico City’s is consistently low-rise, demonstrating that high-density can be achieved with different types of built form.

Looking forward to seeing more from LSE Cities project.


The World’s Biggest Cities Over the Last 6,000 Years

Fun chart via the Business Insider of the largest cities in the world over the last 6,000 years in the “east” (Asia) and “west” (Europe and North America). Click to enlarge.

The population of the biggest cities in the west and east

A clear trend of seeing history’s largest cities in the regions that were the centre of power and industry during their time. Various cities in China dominated before the 18th century, but Tokyo and Japan dominated East Asia in the 19th and 20th century.

Meanwhile in the west the centres of power and commerce shifted between cities in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, to Rome, then to various Ottoman cities and London, before jumping across the Atlantic to New York, and now Mexico City. World history in one chart.