An alpha city is a city which plays a major role in the international community. Alpha cities have tremendous economic, political, and social clout, and they are viewed as primary hubs for global industry, in addition to centers of culture. Some examples of alpha cities are: Paris, London, Tokyo, and New York City. There are also beta cities such as San Francisco, Singapore, Beijing, and Brussels, which play an important role in the global community but lack the power of their alpha brethren.
Several characteristics are used to define an alpha city. The first is first name familiarity around the world. For example, when someone says “Paris,” it is unnecessary to add the clarification that one is referring to the Paris in France, because Paris is so well known. When given the name of an alpha city, most people can say which country that city is in, and they may be aware of several major landmarks in the city, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or events involving that city, like the French Revolution.
Alpha cities are also economic powerhouses. They are meccas for the international business community, and they usually house the core of their national financial industry, including stock exchanges. Many international companies have offices in every alpha city so that they can be in touch with the most current events going on around the world, and alpha cities are major waypoints for shipping as well, with the city often being situated on a port.
To be an alpha city, a city must have a well serviced international airport, along with hubs for trains, shipping, and trucking, and an extensive public transit system. The community of people in the city are diverse, with people from many nations, religions, and socioeconomic classes represented. Alpha cities tend to have tremendous political influence, not only in their own nations, but in the world in general.
Finally, an alpha city is a cultural center. Alpha cities are rich in arts and culture, with museums, theaters, resident symphonies, and other forms of culture. They tend to be arbiters of taste and fashion, with new trends emerging first on the streets of alpha cities, and they are also powerhouses of information exchange, media, and publishing. Every alpha city houses major international and national publishers, media outlets, and information technology companies.
Many alpha cities are popular tourist destinations, thanks to the large role they play in society and culture. At any given time, tourists from all over the world can be found sharing the streets of an alpha city with business travelers, residents, and transients in the city temporarily for work, artistic performances, and other activities.