Category: Centrality and the City

Downtown Beirut and the bitter taste of a “reconstructed” supposed-to-be-centrality

Pre-war Beirut used to be the apparent centre of the Middle East: highly specialised economy, advanced tourist services, great cultural manifestations, and a beautiful strategic geographical situation. Unfortunately this is no more the case: Beirut, in spite of the reconstruction plan, has not been able to reclaim its lost supposed-to-be-centrality. One can go far and argue that Beirut was never a “real” centre, that is, where decision is made and where real power abides.

Jerusalem at the very centre of the World, Bunting’s Map and social construction

Jerusalem is at the centre, if not the physical, at least the symbolic one of our World. We know that, in respect of the world’s shape, its “centre” stems from social construction and choices, and not “natural” or physical reasons. One famous map, Bunting’s Cloverleaf Map of the World, is a good example of this socially-constructed centrality.

Sassen’s Global City, in the heart of centrality

In the heart of centrality, this is, indeed, the subject of the book of Saskia Sassen. New York, London and Tokyo command the global-city network in the world, that is, the cities in which the biggest number of financial and economic transactions, cultural manifestations, and “pivotal” decisions are made (hence “central functions”). Los Angeles, Toronto, Sao Paolo, Paris, Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Dubai, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore belong to this network of global cities.

Comment les centralités “conjoncturelles” à Beyrouth se sont développées,1850-1995

Cet article se propose de démontrer que les déplacements des lieux d’installation de fonctions centrales à l’économie et aux réseaux de la ville de Beyrouth (et donc ceux de sa “centralité”) ne sont que l’expression spatiale de phénomènes conjoncturels variés. La centralité beyrouthine, loin de se focaliser en un seul lieu par une accumulation progressive d’attributs, s’est déplacée selon des contextes géopolitiques.