Wednesday, 29 March 2017

The limits of London

an article by Jonathan D. Paul (University College London, UK) published in International Journal of Urban Sciences Volume 21 Issue 1 (2017)


The metropolis of London, UK, can be defined in multiple ways.

The official statistical definition of Greater London is somewhat arbitrary and differs substantially from postal, telephone, political, transport, and many other Londons.

This paper critically compares new methods of defining the limits of London, using census data and railway travel-times, and within the context of political leanings and historical development.

London can be divided into an inner core and outer fringe, the latter often indistinguishable from the surrounding countryside. However, there are striking differences within this fringe: while the edge of the city is sometimes sharp, it more often takes the form of a zone up to 10 km wide. This width reflects the wealth of ways in which the city can be defined.

The concept of London’s economic footprint or travel-to-work area has motivated the inclusion a new super-Greater London unit, well beyond traditional city limits. Commuter towns within this area can be considered ‘half-London’. While viewing London’s limits dynamically in relation to its surrounding hinterland is certainly attractive and satisfies multiple datasets, cleaving to the official definition of Greater London is more useful for statistical purposes.

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