If you had to pick the top four cities that matter the most in the U.S. based on the industry that they represent, which cities would you pick? I’d argue for these four:
– New York City: money/finance/Wall Street
– Los Angeles: culture, such as TV and movies
– Silicon Valley (taking San Jose up to San Francisco as one mega-city): technology
– Washington D.C.: power
Beyond those four areas, things get murkier. Other cities like Chicago or Philadelphia are clearly important, but they’re diverse enough that they’re not synonymous with a specific industry. A city like Las Vegas is well-known for gambling, but would you rank gambling as more important than money, culture, technology or power? And frankly, you could also choose New York City for other industries such as publishing or journalism.
Likewise, you can absolutely have an impact in (say) technology outside of the Bay Area–think Boston, Seattle, or Austin–but it’s probably easier to drive technological change in the Bay Area.
Looking at it from the other direction, if you consider other large areas of the economy like energy, health care, or education, you don’t immediately think of a specific city associated with those industries.
I find this “four city” theory interesting. For example, you might consider politics or current events through the four city lens for insights about how the different areas interact with each other. Or you might look at a city like Detroit that has been known for the car industry, and consider what causes a city to thrive or not. Or you can look at how the United States interacts with other countries, and break down that interaction by money, culture, technology, or power. Or you might ask yourself whether you want to live in one of those four regions, or decide that you deliberately don’t want to live there.
Do you agree or think I’m crazy? I’d be curious to hear what other industries or cities people would propose adding, or if you think I’m completely off base.