Who built the city of London
London : Capital of billionaires and immigrants
According to a survey by the “Sunday Times”, London has become the world capital of the super-rich: According to the newspaper, 72 billionaires live on the Thames, more than in Moscow - 48 billionaires live there - or New York with 43 billionaires. Among the ten richest people in Great Britain is the entrepreneur Gerald Grosvenor, Duke of Westminster, only one true Briton. The richest men in London are said to be the Pakistani raw materials entrepreneurs Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja. With a joint estimated fortune of 11.5 billion pounds (14.1 billion euros), the brothers pushed Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov (estimated 10.65 billion pounds) to second place. Indian steel mogul Lakshmi Mittal finished third with an estimated fortune of £ 10.25 billion. Most of the super-rich are in London, however, not because it is a city of bankers. In England they enjoy the legal security that they often miss in their homeland, and certainly also the comforts of English society.
Prince Charles is concerned about London's appeal. “For over a thousand years, London has been a Mecca for outside talent and opportunities for its residents. We have to make sure it stays that way. ”But now London's growth isn't just making the heir to the throne dizzy. Everything on the Thames grows into the sky: the number of people, the rich, the poor, the tourists, the immigrants, the apartment hunters. The amount of rents, apartment prices and the number of floors in the new houses.
A city is losing its face - 288 new high-rise buildings are to be built in London
When an architecture journal recently reported that 236 skyscrapers were under construction or planned, the city newspaper "Evening Standard" did the math - and came up with 288. An exhibition with models of the future skyline frightens Londoners who still praised William Wordsworth's 1802 view of the Westminister Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral in mind. Parts of London already look like Manhattan. “Skyscrapers create alienation and social disruption,” warns Charles. Rental houses and apartment buildings with up to six floors in green spaces are better for London. "So that you can still get into the apartment when the elevator is broken."
"The London skyline is out of control," wrote a group of 70 prominent artists, architects, scientists and philosophers in the "Observer". Without consultation and debate, a “fundamental transformation of the city” is underway. Most skyscrapers are residential buildings, but "their real purpose is to create investments, not harmonious neighborhoods". The intellectuals warn of "permanent damage to London's urban structure, its global image and its reputation".
Debate in the "Guardian" results in widespread acceptance of high-rise buildings
On the other hand: In an online debate by the Guardian, the new high-rise buildings had a noticeably high level of support. London's image in the world has always reflected the willingness to change and adapt, wrote a user named “fripouille”. “The city is seething with energy, it's busy and confident. New buildings have to take that into account. "
London is changing faster than it has been in decades. Even the city fathers were surprised when the 2011 census counted almost half a million more inhabitants than expected. In ten years, London grew by twelve percent to 8.3 million today. Soon the city will overtake New York. People who are looking for opportunities, freedom, adventure, a job and a new life are attracted like a magnet. A “Mecca”, as Charles says.
London is the center of the creative industries
In all industries and areas, London benefits from the law of agglomeration - where there are many, more want to go. Google is building its headquarters at Kings Cross, near a top university, at St. Martin’s Art Academy, a mile from the “Digital Roundabout”, the start-up hub on Old Street. Above all, creative industries gather their best talents in the city - computer games, biotechnology, film and post-production studios, the art trade, the fashion world, the theater scene.
American bankers come "because in London you can sue the government in court and you can be sure that you will get a fair trial," explained former Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein. The super-rich from the formerly totalitarian Soviet Union really appreciate the Anglo-Saxon legal security. In 2011, Rinat Akhmetov, the richest Ukrainian, paid £ 136 million for his penthouse in the residential complex “One Hyde Park”.
Students come from all over the world
Students come from all over the world. London has just been ranked second again among the “world's best student cities” - behind Paris with its better quality of life. But London has the best mix of top universities. There are tourists who infuriate Londoners in the underground when they stop at the top of the escalator or in front of ticket barriers and rummage for their tickets. In 2013 there were 20 percent more tourists than in the previous year.
Lots of immigrants from Eastern Europe
And hundreds of new citizens come every week, like Bogumil, who was a music teacher in his native Bulgaria. He has been a window cleaner in London for five years. Every two months he walks the streets with his ladder and cleans the windows of his regular customers. A few months ago he hired a Bulgarian student to help out and bought a piano. Now he also gives piano lessons. “I will never go back to Bulgaria. Bulgaria is for summer and the sea. "
Greatest social inequality of all rich countries
London is booming - but the gap with the rest of Britain has never been so great. London represents 48 percent of current UK growth - in 2007 it was 37 percent. In a radio series entitled "The country that was formerly called London", the BBC reported "from the year 2030". In the radio outlook, London, like Singapore or Hong Kong, has become an independent city-state, "the most multicultural city in the world, a rich, liberal country with a diverse population, but seething social tensions and the greatest inequality of all rich countries", so the program description. House prices are so high that cleaning staff, baristas and firefighters have to commute from distant cities like Hastings. Only: There is little fictional about this future report. London is already considered to be perhaps the most integrated multicultural city in the world. But in the summer of 2011 the “seething social tensions” led to riots with arson and mass looting. London is already home to most of the super-rich in the world - but 28 percent are officially “poor” according to the New Policy Institute's “Poverty Profile 2013” - seven percent more than in the rest of England. Nowhere in the UK are more jobs being created faster than in London - but the number of unemployed is above the average at 8 percent.
Rents and house prices are exploding
The number of poor rises fastest among those who need to rent apartments. A typical London family spends up to 59 percent of their income on housing costs, reported Shelter Housing Agency. The average price for a London apartment reached a record price of 501,379 euros in January - the increase in the last twelve months was 13.8 percent. The average salary in London is only 44,500 euros a year. "Prices have lost touch with reality," warn credit brokers. International investor money is eroding the city, ”complained BBC journalist Andrew Marr when twelve galleries on Cork Street had to close because the houses were being converted into luxury apartments. In the middle of the preparations for an exhibition at Tate Britain, Phyllida Barlow and 400 other artists lost their studios in a cookie factory in Bermondsey that is being converted into living space. "How are artists supposed to survive in London?" Warns Tate director Penelope Curtis.
Marr tells of an investor presentation in Shanghai, where a Chinese man bought an apartment in North London for several million pounds, "for my son when he goes to college". When asked how old the son was, the Chinese replied: Six months.
Despite the extreme stresses and strains, the residents are surprisingly open-minded
Are Londoners happy in this city where the natives fight for tradition and history, but a steady stream of new people mercilessly forces change and change? In the first “Happiness” survey conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2012, London had the lowest values for “satisfaction” (27 percent). The largest number of respondents had stress the day before (45 percent).
But a detailed lifestyle survey by the polling institute Yougov in March 2014 concluded that, despite all the stress, Londoners see their city as a place "where you can improve your general quality of life". "The majority of Londoners believe the city is a good place to find a job, earn money, learn new things, start a hobby, go to school, make friends and fall in love."
In the latest "Mercer Index" of the quality of life of leading global cities, London only ranks 38th - Berlin 16th, Vienna 1st. The air in the city is bad for health, the apartments are small and priceless, and they are far outside. But the city experience somehow makes up for it. In any case, a majority of 57 percent of Londoners gave their city's quality of life a mark in the upper half of a scale from 1 to 10. Only 29 percent chose the negative half.
London is a city for young people
In return, they see London as an unsuitable place to raise children or to grow old: when asked what stage of life London is best for, 40 percent said “for twenties”. Yougov's conclusion: "London is overwhelmingly a city for young people."
This fits in with the average age of Londoners, which is 33 years old, six years below the UK average - and the tremendous mobility. Hundreds of thousands move into and out of the city every year. The vast majority of Londoners have moved from other cities in the UK or abroad - a staggering 37 percent of Londoners were not born in the UK.
And what is Prince Charles fighting for?
Prince Charles fights for old London - "a series of neighborhood towns that convey identity and a sense of belonging". But London, founded by immigrant Romans, has always been a city of coming and going. Many live here according to the motto, "City air makes you free"; to find identity, not to preserve forms of life. “There is no point in wanting to live in London,” wrote the journalist Christian Oliver in a report in the “Financial Times” and after a long, unsuccessful search for a house abroad, he signed off again. But almost every popular “What I hate about London” list also quotes the old 18th century quote from the 18th century London essayist Samuel Johnson: “Those who are tired of London are tired of life.”
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