I've racked my brain trying to remember where I read it but something I came across this week made reference to London being the World's Largest City once upon a time. You know how much I love anything having to do with the World's Largest Stuff so I wanted to find out more.
Sure enough, someone has written a book on the subject. It's called Four Thousand Years Of Urban Growth: An Historical Census by Tertius Chandler. I may have to track down a copy for further reading but one chart I found online from the book listed the world's most populous cities throughout history and the approximate year they became #1.
London, for instance, was on top for about a hundred years starting in 1825 when they had 1.35 million folks. Some other highlights:
The earliest champ in the book was Memphis, Egypt with about 30,000 people in 3100 B.C..
Babylonia in Iraq was #1 in 612 B.C. and was the first city to have more than 200,000 residents.
Rome, Italy hit 450,000 in 25 A.D..
Beijing, China hit 600,000 in about 1450. Why Rome was not bigger by that point I can't imagine.
New York in 1925 had 7.774 million.
Since 1965 Tokyo has held the crown. That year they hit 15 million people. According to the 2006 census they had 35.53 million call it home. More than 35 million people living in one city (and its surrounding urban areas.) Wow.
Think for a moment about how many cities you could guess are in the top 20 most populous cities on Earth today before you look at the list below. I was surprised by some of the places that made the cut.
#20 Manila, Philippines 10.80 million
#19 Moscow, Russia 10.82
#18 Beijing, China 10.85
#17 Cairo, Egypt 11.29
#16 Osaka, Kobe, Japan 11.32
#15 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 11.62
#14 Lagos, Nigeria 11.70
#13 Karachi, Pakistan 12.20
#12 Los Angeles, USA 12.22
#11 Shanghai, China 12.63
#10 Dhaka, Bangladesh 13.09
#9 Buenos Aires, Argentina 13.52
#8 Jakarta, Indonesia 13.67
#7 Calcutta, India 14.57
#6 Delhi, India 16.00
#5 Sao Paulo, Brazil 18.61
#4 New York, USA 18.65
#3 Mumbai, India 18.84
#2 Mexico City, Mexico 19.24
#1 Tokyo, Japan 35.53
I've had the privilege of traveling some in my life but have still only been to three of the cities on the Top 20 list. I am curious if any of my readers have been to five. Anyone visited more? Love to hear from you and as I thank you in advance for leaving a comment I'll mention that someone today will leave the 4000th comment on my blog since it went live on November 1st, 2007. Thank you again for helping me make this a two way exchange of ideas and information.
*"Stand back, I don't know how big this thing gets" is the punchline to an old joke about Adam's first words to Eve in the Garden of Eden, population, 2. :)