"Washington is my home town. It dies at sundown; it is too hot in the summer, too damp in the winter, too dry on Sundays and more interested in politics than it is in sex, but I like it. It is civilized in a square, middle-class way, which is to say, urbanely dull. It is ideally suited for the middle-aged family couple, being perhaps the last great city in which middle income can afford a house, a tomato patch and a canopy of dogwoods within fifteen minutes of the office."
Having this quotation by Russell Baker (1967) in mind, it might seem strange that I am analysing this city when the workshop is supposed to deal with metropolises. One answer could be that this quote dates back to the year 1967 and the city might have changed completely since then, thus representing a perfect example for the "Metropolis in Transition" - as the workshop is called. However, many academics would still talk about Washington as a sleepy, cosy town located somewhere in the middle between the North and the South of the United States. Other authors call Washington a rapidly shrinking Metropolis, just referring to the District of Columbia, that is the inner part of the Washington Metropolitan Region and therefore not comparable to other cities. While one could fill whole libraries and conference schedules with research undertakings on New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, Washington has hardly ever been studied. Even cities such as Miami or Las Vegas have been analysed as the new global cities or as prototypes of a so-called post-modern urbanism, whereas only a few author have ever asked "Washington, Une Ville Mondiale?" (Boquet 2001), or described Washington's development "From Tidewater Town to Global Metropolis" (Abbott 1999).
There are two reasons why I think it is important to focus on Washington, DC. First, the city has indeed changed tremendously over the last decades. It has transformed from a provincial town at the Potomac that only bureaucrats and politicians would chose as a desirable place to live, to a lively place that counts as one of the top growth regions in the US. Washington has become the fifth most important destination for legal immigrants to the US, biotech and hi-tech companies have moved into the metropolitan area, and the region is experiencing a significant population increase.
Second, ranking cities most often only refers to economic measures. Had there not been the defence sector located close to the federal government, as well as the National Health Center, not much industry would be in the region. However, this is a very one-sided perspective of the importance of cities. Cities with economic headquarters and a large industrial sector certainly gain lots of attention in the public. This does not mean, however, that they are more important, more dynamic and more prosperous than others. Indeed, Washington, DC is a very good example for the one-sidedness of global cities which mainly values economic aspects, completely neglecting other measures such as political, cultural and social aspects of cities which tremendously contribute to the transformation of the cities and also create a respectable amount of growth in the region.
Analysing Washington shows that more than economic factors contribute to the making of a world city. The political institutions in Washington have attracted a large number of service industries, immigrants, and tourists. The clustering of the political institutions in one specific part of the downtown of Washington, DC created a special ground for political decision making that spreads all over the world and has made Washington into a "command centre" of global politics. In order to show what this implies, how the political sector is functioning and what that means for the world city-ness of Washington DC, I would like to talk about my research undertaking on "Local activity patterns in a global city - analysing the political sector in Washington, DC."
My methodology contains first a description of the growth dynamics of the metropolitan region, taken from existing data such as the US Census, economic analyses, newspaper articles and other observations. In order to contribute to a broader understanding of the discussion of world cities, and in order to move from mere economic aspects to political measures, I am then analysing the political sector in more detail. This approach contains a stock-taking of the political sector in Washington with the results from a written questionnaire in the course of the year (I am actually still collecting and receiving questionnaires right now, so the data I am presenting here, is still on its way to be completed). The survey has been complemented by more detailed follow-up interviews with selected political institutions of the non-governmental sector that provides a better understanding of the networking of the political sector in DC. A closer look at the structure and type of the employees in the non-profit world will also help to highlight the special configuration of the political sector in contrast to economic actors. I will then conclude with some of the urban implications of political activity in Washington, thus returning to the discussion of world cities.
THE WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREA AS A GROWTH REGION
According to a survey by the economic magazine Inc., Washington is the second most entrepreneurial city in the US after Las Vegas (Case 1990). A consulting company even placed Washington fourth amongst 60 world cities as the most popular location for company start-ups (Isaac 1990). Even though Washington accounts for relatively few workers in the manufacturing industry, the number of employees per capita in the so-called "four As"(accounting, analysts, associations, attorneys) is almost double that of any other American city (Holzner 1992: 353). In 2002, 68,000 attorneys worked in the city, which is an increase of 23 percent since 1990 (Downs 2002). Total employment grew by 95,000 annually for the last ten years, even though the government has cut back around 60,000 positions during the same time period (Washington Post 2002). This kind of growth dynamic is a typical characteristic for global cities. If one compares Washington with other world cities, the city is leading especially in some outstanding sectors, such as public relations, research and development as well as real estate. A spatial expansion is part of that trend. The city is growing consistently into its northwest surroundings, following the two development corridors towards Dulles Airport and Rockville/Gaithersburg. Almost continuously, new postmodern office buildings are constructed, that offer modern flex space for new companies especially in the biotech- and hi-tech industries (Photo 1).
A similar trend can be observed in population development. Between 1970 and 1990, the population of the Metropolitan Area grew by 35.5 percent (Brookings Institution 1999). Between 1990 and 2000, Washington continued to grow by 16.6 percent. In the year 2000, the total number of inhabitants was 4.9 million (U.S. Census 2000). One of the most important reasons for this growth is the number of international immigrants. Legal immigrants to the USA chose Washington as their fifth most popular destination (Singer et al. 2001). In this aspect, the region is topped only by New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami. Looking at the spatial distribution of the immigrants, another trend is striking: approximately 87 percent of the newcomers avoid DC and settle directly in the suburbs. This stands in contrast to traditional immigration patterns in the US. Furthermore, no single country of origin dominates among the immigrants. Even though El Salvadorian nationals constitute the largest single group, they only account for 10.5 percent of all immigrants (ibid.).
In accordance with the growing importance of the political sector, incomes are increasing as well. Between 1980 and 1998, the average household income has more than doubled, from $23,800 to $57,200 (Brookings Institution 1999). This figure indicates that Washingtonians earn much more than the average US American household with an income of $37,005 (U.S. Census 2000).
This picture, however, does not reveal the whole truth. Growth does not characterise the entire region but divides it into two very uneven parts, following 16th Street in DC and I-95 in Maryland and Virginia (Map 1). Whereas the Northwest (mainly Loudoun, Fairfax, and Montgomery County) is characterised by a high percentage of white and Asian population, high incomes and above average population growth rates, the situation is very different in the Eastern and Southern part of the region (mainly Prince George's County), as well as in DC (Table 1). Poverty and unemployment are much higher in these areas (Photo 2). While the prosperous Loudon County accounts for a population increase of 96.9 percent between 1990 and 2000 (in the year 2001, Loudoun County was the fastest growing county in the US!), the District of Columbia continuously loses inhabitants (U.S. Census 2000).
FROM ECONOMIC TO POLITICAL ASPECTS OF GLOBAL CITIES
These few numbers show that Washington has changed enormously within the last decades and can be easily called a global city. However, as I pointed out earlier, I am not so much interested in economic numbers. More important is, how the change has happened and how the development of the city fits into the broader theoretical context of global city research. As the discussion of world cities stirred up by Jonathan Friedman's publication of the world city hypothesis in 1986 has shown, certain cities have developed into concentration nodes or "control centres" (Sassen 1994) of the world economy. In these centres, the headquarters of transnational companies and international financial institutions find ideal locations, accompanied by a large number of highly specialised service industries. The discussion has revealed important urban development processes, and has also added a theoretical framework to the analysis of the evolving urban system in the time of globalisation. It has, however, also contributed to an incessant, one-sided discussion of certain cities while others have been neglected completely. It is in fact highly debatable what cities - apart from a few top cities such as New York, Tokyo, Paris, and London - belong to the exclusive class of world cities. Also, the factors used to measure world cities, is not always convincing. Most of the time, they are narrowed down to economic aspects because these are the most easy ones to study. Beaverstock et al. (1999), for example, have shown convincingly, how much a so-called world city-ness depends on the specific measures used for the analysis. Many researchers have tried to define the "authentic" global cities. These studies, however, seem to dive even deeper into the ramifications of different quantitative methods. They count a broad variety of indices which, finally, only lead to a new ranking of cities. My study, in contrast, has a different goal. By using other than just economic factors, I am arguing, that social, cultural and political aspects are equally important for the rise of world cities. Knox (1995) included some of these aspects when he integrated international political institutions into the ranking of world cities. Also Taylor (1997, 2000) stressed the important interaction between economic and political power relations and concluded that more research needs to be done.
When Washington became the capital of the United States more than 200 years ago, the decision was more of a compromise between the different competing groups (mostly the North against the South) than a strong argument for Washington (see Bowling 1991 und Henrikson 1983). Since World War II, however, the importance of Washington grew due to the arrival of several political and economic institutions. Next to 165 embassies, which had settled in Washington due to the capital function, the most important international financial institutions chose Washington as the seat for their headquarters, such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank or the International Development Bank. Numerous research institutions, such as universities and think tanks followed the financial institutions and the 1960s were booming years in that regard (for more details on the raise of think tanks, see . Currently, one single sector, education, accounts for 70,000 employees, a number, that is only topped by Boston (Downs 2002). Foundations as well as professional or trade associations are also located in the city, the latter alone consists of 7,500 different groups. Two-thirds of them are located within a 20-mile-radius around the capitol (ibid.). The number of non-governmental or non-profit organisations has also increased immensely since the 1970's. They are organised around a broad variety of political issues. Henig (1995) counts approximately 6,300 of such organisations that influence the political and social life of the city. They have transformed Washington into the central node of world policy in the times of globalisation. While the 380,000 civil servants in the governmental offices still form the most important single sector in 2002, they are supplemented by a broad variety of different political interest groups that are hardly ever counted at all. Such a high density of political institutions can be found only in a few other cities, such as Geneva, Brussels, Paris, or London. It is comparable to the institutional thickness that Amin/Thrift (1994) ascertained for industrial headquarters, where companies use the innovative milieu for their entrepreneurial undertakings. They use the "synergy effects" caused by the proximity of other actors. This seems to be important for political actors as well.
"INSTITUTIONAL THICKNESS" OF POLITICAL ACTORS IN WASHINGTON, DC
Why the political sector is hardly ever analysed, is partly due to the political sector itself, since a detailed definition is almost impossible. The variety of political actors is simply too large. They include numerous, small interest groups that often begin as one-person operations, neighbourhood organisations, professional and trade associations, information enterprises or political consulting companies, research institutes and embassies, and huge governmental offices such as the United States Information Agency or the Department of Defence that in itself employs more than 100,000 people (Downs 2002). The question is, in what sense political institutions attract service companies, and how political groups use the spatial proximity of other political institutions for their work? In other words, what kind of spatial activity pattern emerges for the networking of these groups? Do they need the existing thickness of knowledge and information? How do they contribute to a further expansion of the city as a political world city?
In order to answer these questions, I have to define the political sector more specifically. Due to the embeddedness of the study in world city research, I am only interested in those organisations that work on an international agenda, excluding the numerous non-profit groups at the local or neighbourhood level, as well as city offices, professional and trade organisations, cultural and religious groups. These groups, while they also belong to the overall political sector, are not analysed because they are not unique to global cities. They concentrate on local or regional issues that are not related to international development. Federal offices will also not be further looked at because their location is due to Washington's function as the capital of the country which does not necessarily lead to world city status. The large number of remaining institutions with international agenda analysed here is still quite diverse. It ranges from human right groups to organisations dealing with poverty alleviation, women's issues, environmental aspects, health issues or many other aspects. The political sector analysed in this study, therefore, consists of 62 international institutions, 120 foundations, 68 think tanks, 67 training & research-institutes, 165 foreign embassies, and 450 NGOs and 22 "miscellaneous institutions"(that cannot explicitly be grouped into one category) (inquiries Gerhard 2001/2002).
Looking at the spatial distribution of political actors in Washington, the concentration in DC is striking (Map 1). Out of the approximately 950 collected addresses, more than 800 reside in DC, just a few small clusters can be found in Arlington, Montgomery and Fairfax County as well as in Alexandria. The whole South and East, however, have just one single institution. This spatial pattern in the Washington Region resembles the above-mentioned split of the region into two very uneven parts. In his analysis of multicultural Washington, Manning (1998: 345) states that even some NGOs would follow the suburbanisation trend of population and companies towards the northwest. However, looking at the political sector more closely, does not suggest a general tendency towards the suburbs but rather a high concentration trend. Interestingly enough, those organisations located outside of DC, seem to differ from the ones in the central location. More often they concentrate on more local or regional issues that are related to the area they are located in, or they are rather small organisations that cannot afford the high rents in downtown, DC. Generally speaking they are not as dependent on the daily exchange with other institutions, such as NGOs, the White House, embassies or financial institutions as will be explained further down.
Within DC, one can find another major cluster: more than 60 percent of the addresses are located within five central zip codes. These are the downtown codes in the Northwest sector of the city (here specifically the area between Federal Mall and Dupont Circle), and the adjacent northern neighbourhoods (Map 2). The majority of political organisations are concentrated within a few blocks between I, K, L and M Street between 15th and 19th Street. A reason for the specific location in this section appeared to be the easy accessibility to the Capitol Hill area. Whereas the area surrounding the capitol is mostly taken by federal offices or lobbying groups, NGOs, think tanks and research institutes cluster around Dupont Circle. This area is just a few Metro stops away from Capitol Hill. It is therefore within easy reach for regular meetings and the necessary exchange of ideas.
A clear segmentation among the different political spheres within that sector is also striking. Whereas embassies string along New Hampshire and Massachusetts Avenue (the so-called Embassy Row), Connecticut Avenue seems to be the central hub for NGOs and foundations. International financial institutions cluster further south along Pennsylvania Avenue and K Street, obviously relatively close to the major institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank as well as the federal offices along Constitution Avenue and the Federal Mall. Due to this proximity, K Street has emerged as a centre of consulting and lobbying companies, the so-called "K Street-syndrome" or "revolving door": When former employees of federal agencies quit their positions, they often settled down as consultants in direct proximity to their former offices (interview with one Alternative Executive Director of the IMF, 2001).
The clustering of political organisations shows that in contrast to the suburbanisation trend of population and companies, centrality plays a major role in the political sector. The downtown is the most important location for political organisations, but not necessarily along the Federal Mall or Judiciary Square - the centre of the representative governmental buildings - but rather in the adjacent northern district that is still a residential neighbourhood. The big international institutions chose their central location mainly due to prestige reasons, while NGOs looked for spatial proximity, permanent contacts, and the exchange of views with other political actors when they made their location choice. Otherwise, the generally high rents in that area would not be justified. According to my survey of 80 different NGOs in 2002, 38 percent of the tenants pay a monthly rent of more than $5,000 rent for a median-sized office space of 4,000 square metres. Almost all organisations, however, are quite content with their location. The most important reasons mentioned were the convenience of the central location, the closeness to other political institutions, Metro access, and an attractive neighbourhood.
Direct contact to other political groups seems to be a priority. Email and telephone are mainly used for communication; but all of the interviewed groups emphasized that these tools do not replace face-to-face-contacts. In fact, during the follow-up interviews many NGO representatives even strengthened the importance of personal meetings as the most important part of their daily work schedule. A look at one of the interviewees calendar showed, that her days were almost structured by several meetings with other organisations in DC, around which she had to organise other tasks (such as fundraising, answering letters, writing proposals). Gathering information and exchanging views were the most important reasons to meet up with other NGOs. Gathering information was also important to meet with think tanks or embassies, and fundraising was the single most important reason to meet foundations. Half of the NGOs visit US government agencies at least once a week, foundations and think tanks were visited at least one or two times per month. 40 percent of the NGOs meet other NGOs more than once a week; embassies, in contrast, are visited less often. The reasons for these regular meetings were the exchange of views and information, occasionally fundraising, and, least often, the organisation of political events.
At least the last aspect of organising political protests deserves some more consideration since it is the one that the public is most often confronted with. Especially in preparation for the Annual Meeting of the World Bank Group and IMF, different networks of NGOs are becoming active in discussion groups, publications and organising protest marches. The city is pretty well equipped with posters and bills carrying slogans confronting global capitalism. The interviewed NGOs, however, seemed not to get involved in those political protests so much. Among the 80 political organisations that answered the questionnaire, only six mentioned that they meet other groups (NGOs or government offices) in order to engage in protests. This result seems somewhat surprising if one follows the public discussion on globalisation and protest culture. It shows, however, that the daily work of political groups is much more detailed and at the bottom of things than it might appear in public media.
The offices of the organisations were the number one meeting places, while other meeting locations included restaurants and public events. The section around Dupont Circle is organised around theses activities: No other section of the city has such a high density of restaurants and cafes. Especially during lunch hour, they are regularly packed with employees of the surrounding offices of political institutions. Political conversations seem to fill the air.
NETWORKING OF POLITICAL ACTORS IN WASHINGTON, DC
In his analysis of the network society, Castells (1995) has assigned the innovative milieu a significant impact for the expansion and evolution of the information society. The same holds true for the political milieu: Despite the importance of modern communication techniques, spatial proximity still seems to be an important engine for the gathering of information. Globalisation has increased the speed and also the reach of communication flows; furthermore, it has changed the topics of the debate and the mode of public discussions; it has, however, not lessened the importance of space in the political discourse (Soyez 2000). Regular meetings among members of political institutions, numerous political events, and the daily exchange with other organisations are the central theme of political activism. This holds true also for the exchange between the different political spheres of high and low politics. Whereas NGOs and think tanks almost constantly meet with members of the US Congress, present their views and get involved in research undertakings or consulting activities, also the discussion between NGOs and major financial institutions such as IMF or World Bank form a central part of political decision-making. In preparation for political summits, such as the fall meeting of the World Bank Group or the G7-Meeting, several public events are organised. The representatives of different NGOs speak, for example, to World Bank officials and present their views. The mandates of NGOs are increasingly taken into account, as the heading on the World Bank's webpage "NGOs and Civil Society" demonstrates (http://wbln0018.worldbank.org/essd/essd.nsf/NGOs/home). At the same time, one can observe major differences between the different political "circles". The Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation, for example, organises panel sessions in the famous Mayflower Hotel, whereas NGOs such as the Center of Concern meet in seminar rooms of the John Hopkins University, thus targeting a different group of people.
A look at which specific organisations they most often met with is also interesting. "Interaction.org" was the single one NGO that was mentioned most often. This organisation is the largest alliance of US-based international development NGOs with more that 160 members, the majority of them based in DC. It functions as a network for the different groups that are quite diverse but share some common goals. One goal, for example, is lobbying for certain issues, which they are by tax-exempt status not allowed to do for themselves. Other groups that seemed to be important were environmental groups such as The Sierra Club or OXFAM, as well as organisations concentrating on women's issues. Religious groups were also mentioned several times. Among governmental offices US AID stands out since it is one of the most important sponsors of many political organisations concentrating on international development. The State Department is also a relevant partner in the communication of the political sector, as well as different ambassadors and financial institutions such as the World Bank or IMF.
The meetings take place often informally, but also on a quite regular basis. One example was explained by one of the interviewees. For a continuous time of eight years the now president of a large NGO organised a weekly breakfast roundtable, congregating groups working on Latin America. The meetings always started with a continental breakfast in order to provide some time for informal chats. Then it continued with panel discussion and the exchange of actual issues. Sometimes, guest speakers were invited to provide more detailed information. How much these events depend on certain single people is also displayed by this example. When the main organizer of this meeting group became president of a large NGO and could not continue with the breakfast roundtable, it disappeared from the daily political scene of Washington, DC.
If one leaves the local Washington sphere and asks for worldwide connections of the political institutions, another interesting pattern emerges. Some distinct cities seem to be very important sites for political groups (see Map 3). These are mainly London, Brussels, and Geneva. From the 80 interviewed NGOs, 17 alone named London as an important site. Some other cities such as Paris, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Ottawa as well as Nairobi(!) and New Delhi are mentioned a few times, however a large group of cities (55 in total) were mentioned just occasionally one or two times. They spread out over the whole globe. Even though this map has to be analysed with care as it reveals only a subjective impression of the interviewed groups, the strong concentration on the Northern hemisphere, especially in Europe, is striking. A second, far less significant cluster can be found in Southeast Asia. South America and large parts of Asia, in contrast, are almost blank. This dispersion resembles in large part the dispersion of global cities, as suggested by the GaWC-Group in Loughborough (Taylor/Catalano 2001).
EMPLOYMENT STRUCTURE IN THE NON-PROFIT WORLD
The employment structure in the non-profit world is also of interest. First of all, the international background of the employees was quite heterogeneous, however not as international as was to be expected. Only in a third of all organisations more than 10 percent of the staff was foreign born. Most important countries of origin were the United Kingdom, China, India as well as Canada and France. A few other important regions consisted of countries such as Israel, Jordan, Egypt as well as the Philippines and Indonesia. 56 percent of the staff was female, and the age structure was comparatively young (30 % were between 18 and 30 years old, 51 percent between 30 and 50 years). Volunteer work and the work of interns play an important part in almost all of the NGOs work loads (on average, volunteers work 30 hours per week in each of the interviewed NGO). Asked about the type of the staff, most of the interviews representatives described their staff as very involved in the political issues they were dealing with, convinced about what they were doing, and aware of the fact that the work in a NGO differs very much from that of the for-profit world. They were less interested in material career options. Most of them had a long background in the non-profit sector (for example, one had worked for more than 20 years in different kind of NGOs), however a few had once worked in private companies but wanted to switch to something else. This brief description shows that the employment sector in political organisations is very different from the economic sector and therefore shapes the lifestyles and consumer habits of the population, thus creating a special cultural milieu.
Washington's increasing importance as a political world city has also influenced urban development. It has become a reflexive world city, as Camilla Elmhorn (2001) has put it. In his analysis of the city, Knox (1991) calls Washington a "restless urban landscape" that reveals characteristics of a postmodern metropolis. One example is the gentrification process in the area surrounding Dupont Circle. With the expansion of the political sector into the adjacent northern neighbourhoods, the existing residential structure is changing tremendously. Most of all, rents are increasing consistently and almost unrationally. This is especially true for the Adams Morgan neighbourhood. Only a few years ago, this neighbourhood was known as the dangerous "Third Police District" with a high concentration of Ethiopian immigrants. White people knew the area only from passing by or from local newspapers. Nowadays, the area attracts visitors from the Washington Metropolitan Area, as well as tourists, who are allured by the good Ethiopian food and a large variety of pubs (Photo 3). The area is en vogue, several pubs and restaurants have been opened and are visited frequently. To live close to it, has its price: for a small, not even renovated 1.5 bedroom $ 1,600 is quite common. Other streets have been noticeably renovated and houses have turned into very expensive town houses (Photo 4).
Other quarters of the city, especially those in the vicinity of international schools or in the new "master-planned communities" in the surrounding of the city, have developed into relatively homogeneous residential areas of the international elite. Sometimes, the routes of the school buses to international schools mark a higher concentration of members of international institutions. They have build up their own international neighbourhoods, that sometimes have only little in common with the rest of Washington, DC. The sense of place of the international elite is rather small and their social contacts are limited to the members of the same international group. Their houses, therefore, could be elsewhere in the country. Furthermore, new sites of consumption (e.g., restaurants, shopping malls, etc.) have emerged that directly address the demands of the new international elite.
Taking into account the changes that Washington has undergone in recent decades, it becomes clear that the city has finally shed its image of being a sleepy, "cosy town". It has become a world city with several interesting development processes that have to be studied further. At the same time, polarisation trends have increased, as is the case in other world cities. To call Washington a metropolis would still raise suspicion among many Americans. It has - despite all globalisation trends - kept a flair of provincialism. This, however, is not the only reason why dogwood and cherry trees still are within walking distance from the offices, as revealed in the quotation at the beginning. During those walks, political conversation can continue even after work. This should invite geographers to analyse these networks further and thus contribute to a broader research on world cities and world city functions - including Washington, DC
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* Ulrike Gerhard, University of Würzburg, Germany
Table 1: Population and population measures in the Greater Washington Area
Source: 1U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000, 2Statistical Yearbook of the United States 2000
Table 2: Population characteristics in selected counties and cities in the Greater Washington Area
Source: U.S. Bureau of Census, Census 2000
Photo 1: Brand new office building of the postmodern era, finished in spring 2002 in the Dulles corridor in Fairfax county
Source: Gerhard 2002
Photo 2: Divided city: only five minutes southeast of the capitol streets and houses are rundown by commercial and social blight
Source: Gerhard/Ó'Tuathail 2002
Photo 3: Pubs and restaurants in Adams Morgan: From a black slum to a popular neighbourhood of town
Source: Gerhard 2002
Photo 4: Gentrified houses in Adams Morgan, Washington, DC
Source: Gerhard 2002
Edited and posted on the web on 20th January 2003