Mick Jagger once said about Amsterdam it’s the smallest metropolis in the world. Living in Amsterdam, I’m stay curious about what Jagger saw what I don’t notice. Amsterdam is with hardly a million inhabitants definitely a small city. But what makes a city a metropolis? Is it about the presence of multiple urban functions, about the size of the population, the amount of international headquarters, international contacts among inhabitants, or is it, as the word metropolis would make you believe, about the presence of a proper metro system? I would say all are true, but in the end scale does matter.
This beautiful infographic, which was made within the context of the 2009 Thumb Projects at the Rice School of Architecture, stresses this argument. It’s a brilliant piece of data porn comparing cities based on the scale of their ringroads. I believe that ringroads in most cities are true mental barriers that embody the real size of a functional urban area. Amsterdam is except from Vienna the smallest of all, and I would say you can feel that.