Manifesting Freedom, Abundance, & Our Pursuit of Happiness ?
The page “New world cites” does not exist.
The page “Under populated city list” does not exist
The page “New mega cities” does not exist.
There is a page named “Ghost cities” on Wikipedia (amazing)
Qustion. Is there a ‘New World Cities’ page on Wikipedia ? Answer = No ! The best we could find there in 2019 was the following list of planned cities … with a whole bunch of confusing info that doesn’t really belong in the ‘new’ category.
- Adelaide, South Australia
- Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
- Churchill, Victoria
- Eaglemont, Victoria
- Environa, New South Wales – never built
- Garden City, Victoria
- Griffith, New South Wales
- Inala, Queensland
- Springfield, Queensland
- Joondalup, Western Australia
- Karratha, Western Australia
- Leeton, New South Wales
- Melbourne City Centre, Victoria
- Mildura, Victoria
- Monarto, South Australia – never built
- Multifunction Polis, South Australia – never built
- Palmerston, Northern Territory
- Perth, Western Australia
- Yallourn, Victoria
- Dhanmondi Thana
- Gulshan Thana
- Kawran Bazar
- Mirpur Thana
- Purbachal New Town – under construction
- Uttara Thana
- Água Boa, Mato Grosso
- Águas de São Pedro, São Paulo
- Alta Floresta, Mato Grosso
- Apucarana, Paraná
- Aracaju, Sergipe
- Arapongas, Paraná
- Ariquemes, Rondônia
- Belmonte, Santa Catarina
- Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais – inaugurated in 1897
- Boa Vista, Roraima
- Brasília, Distrito Federal
- Cambé, Paraná
- Cascavel, Paraná
- Cataguases, Minas Gerais – most of the town’s central areas were developed according to a plan, though the rest of the town has since grown randomly
- Chapecó, Santa Catarina
- Cianorte, Paraná
- Colíder, Mato Grosso
- Curitiba, Paraná
- Erechim, Rio Grande do Sul
- Fordlândia – a dream of Henry Ford, now abandoned
- Goiânia, Goiás
- Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais (1915)
- Ilha Solteira, São Paulo
- Ipatinga, Minas Gerais
- Loanda, Paraná
- Londrina, Paraná
- Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso
- Maringá, Paraná
- Naviraí, Mato Grosso do Sul
- Nova Andradina, Mato Grosso do Sul
- Nova Londrina, Paraná
- Nova Mutum, Mato Grosso
- Palmas, Tocantins
- Paragominas, Pará
- Paranavaí, Paraná
- Petrópolis, Rio de Janeiro
- Primavera do Leste, Mato Grosso
- Rolândia, Paraná
- Salvador, Bahia
- Sinop, Mato Grosso
- Sorriso, Mato Grosso
- Teresina, Piauí – inaugurated in 1852 from Oeiras
- Toledo, Paraná
- Três Lagoas, Mato Grosso do Sul
- Umuarama, Paraná
- Vilhena, Rondônia
It is nonsense to say that the planned cities of Eastern Canada are notable and that virtually all cities and towns in Western Canada, that were created after the 1870 Dominion Lands Act (the majority of all such cities) were planned. Although most of these were, indeed, railway towns, founded after surveying and planning by the powerful railway companies during construction of the CPRCanada’s first transcontinental line or the Canadian National Railroad. But this initial start generally only provided one or two streets with a few lots set out. From this, the cities grew organically.
- Batawa, Ontario
- Bramalea, Ontario – now a part of Brampton
- Broughton, Nova Scotia – failed
- Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador
- Deep River, Ontario
- Don Mills, Ontario – now a part of Toronto
- Erin Mills – a planned community of Mississauga, Ontario
- Fermont, Quebec
- Gagnon, Quebec
- Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland
- Grande Cache, Alberta,
- Guelph, Ontario
- Kapuskasing, Ontario
- Kitimat, British Columbia
- Mount Royal, Quebec
- New Westminster, British Columbia – designed by Richard Moody of the Royal Engineers to be the capital of the Colony of British Columbia
- Oromocto, New Brunswick
- Pinawa, Manitoba
- Thompson, Manitoba
- Townsend, Ontario – failed
- Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia
- Vaughan, Ontario
- El Salvador – mining city
China, People’s Republic
D – F
- Esbjerg – replacing the Slesvig harbour towns lost by Denmark in the 1864 Second Schleswig War
- Fredericia – fortress town
- Herning – cultivation of Central Jutland moorland
- Nordhavn – District of Copenhagen
- Ørestad – District of Copenhagen
- 6th of October – Giza Governarate.
- 10th of Ramadan (city) – Sharqia Governarate.
- 15th of May (city) – Cairo Governarate.
- Ain Sokhna – Suez Governarate.
- Badr – Cairo Governarate.
- Borg El Arab – Alexandria Governarate.
- El Shorouk – Cairo Governarate.
- Ismailia – Ismailia Governarate.
- Madinaty – Cairo governarate.
- New Akhmim – Sohag Governarate.
- New Aswan – Aswan Governarate.
- New Asyut – Asyut Governarate.
- New Beni Suef – Beni Suef Governarate.
- New Borg El Arab – Alexandria Governarate.
- New Cairo – Cairo Governarate.
- New Damietta – Damietta Governarate.
- New Fayum – Fayum Governarate.
- New Nubariya – Beheira Governarate.
- New Qena – Qena Governarate.
- New Salhia – Sharqia Governarate.
- New Tiba – Luxor Governarate.
- Obour (city) – Qalubyia Governarate.
- Port Fuad – Port said Governarate.
- Port Tewfik – Suez Governarate
- Ras El Bar-Damietta Governarate.
- Ras Sedr – South Sinai Governarate.
- Sharm El Sheikh – South Sinai Governarate.
- Sheikh Zayed – Giza Governarate.
- Proposed new capital of Egypt.
- New Alamain.
- New Ismailia.
- El Galala.
- Memphis, Egypt – The oldest planned city in Egypt and its first capital. It was built by king Narmer around 3150 B.C.
- Akhetaten – A city built by order of the Pharaoh Akhenaten in the 14th Century B.C. It was the capital of Egypt in his reign.
- Pithom – A city built by order of the Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th Century B.C.
- Pi-Ramesses – Another city built by order of Ramesses II In the 13th Century B.C. It was the capital of Egypt in his reign and it was the first city to exceed 100,000 in the history of Egypt. At its peak, the population of the city was 300,000.
- Heracleion – A city built in the 12th Century B.C. The city had been a major port in ancient Egypt before it subsided below sea level.
- Alexandria – A city built by order of Alexander the Great in the 4th Century B.C. It was the first city in Egypt to have a population of half million.
- Berenice Troglodytica – A city built on the Red Sea coast in the 3rd Century B.C. by Ptolemy I.
- Fustat – A city built around 7th Century CE by order of ‘Amr ibn al-‘As when he conquered Egypt, to be its capital
- al-Askar – the capital of Egypt during the rule of Tulunide Dynasty.
- al-Qata’i – Capital of Egypt during Ikhshid Dynasty.
- Cairo – was built in 10th Century CE By the Fatimid Caliph Al Muizz.
- Hautepierre, a district within Strasbourg
- La Grande-Motte
- Near Lille:
- Near Lyon:
- Near Marseille:
- Neuf-Brisach, Alsace
- Near Paris:
- Near Rouen:
- Royal Saltworks at Arc-et-Senans, Franche-Comté
- Le Touquet
G – H
- Bremerhaven, Bremen
- Eisenhüttenstadt, Brandenburg
- Freudenstadt, Baden-Württemberg
- Glückstadt, Schleswig-Holstein
- Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg
- Ludwigslust, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg
- Putbus, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- Salzgitter, Lower Saxony
- Bielefeld-Sennestadt, North Rhine Westphalia
- Welthauptstadt Germania – a renewal of Berlin; never built
- Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony
- Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony
- Fanling-Sheung Shui New Town, Fanling Town and Sheung Shui Town
- North East New Territories New Development Area
- North Lantau New Town, Tung Chung
- North West New Territories New Development Area
- Sha Tin New Town, Sha Tin Town and Ma On Shan
- Tai Po New Town, Tai Po Town
- Tin Shui Wai New Town
- Tseung Kwan O New Town
- Tsuen Wan New Town, Tsuen Wan Town and Tsing Yi Town
- Tuen Mun New Town, Tuen Mun Town
- Yuen Long New Town, Yuen Long Town
- Andhra Pradesh
- National Capital Region
- Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh
- Chennai, the Old Madras City was built by the British around 18th century.
- Madurai, Tamil Nadu, built around the Meenakshi Temple in 16th century
- Trichy, Tamil Nadu, Ucchi Pillayar Temple, Rockfort built around 7 century. Tanjavur Bragadiswara temple Rajaraja cholar build in 17th century,
- Srirangam, Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, world’s largest functioning Hindu temple.
- Hyderabad, built around 16th century.
- Uttar Pradesh
- West Bengal
- Other cities
Friuli Venezia Giulia
J – L
- Planned cities
All the cities in Hokkaido are planned cities.
- Ōshū, Iwate
- Historic Monuments and Sites of Hiraizumi
- Sendai/Izumi-ku, Sendai
- Tomiya, Miyagi
- Ōgata, Akita
- Tsukuba, Ibaraki
- Saitama City
- Tokyo City – old palace Edo
- Chiba, Chiba
- Kamakura, Kanagawa
- Kōka, Shiga
- Kyoto – old palace Heian-kyō
- Kyōtanabe, Kyoto
- Nara – old palace Heijō-kyō
- Asuka, Yamato/Asuka-kyō
- Tenri, Nara
- Sakurai, Nara
- Kōryō, Nara
- Kibi Plateau city
- Osaka – Naniwa-kyō
- Sakai, Osaka
- Fukuoka City
- Seaside Momochi
- Dazaifu, Fukuoka/Dazaifu (government)
- Naha, Okinawa
- Shuri, Okinawa
- Planned University Towns, Science Cities
- Tsukuba Science City
- Harima Science Garden City
- Kitakyushu Science and Research Park
- Miyazaki University Town
- New Town
- Near Sapporo
- Sweden Hills
- Eniwa New Town Megumino
- Near Tokyo
- Near Nagoya
- Near Osaka
- Near Hiroshima
M – N
Most Mexican cities founded during the period of New Spain were planned from the beginning. There are historical maps showing the designs of most cities; however, as time passed and the cities grew, the original planning disappeared. A number of tourist cities have recently been built, such as Cancun or Puerto Peñasco; the latest city to be planned in Mexico was Delicias. Some of these cities are:
- General Santos
- Koronadal City
- Manila — Planned according to the Laws of the Indies during the Spanish Colonial Period. Towns and parishes surrounding Spanish Manila (Intramuros) grew following the contour of Pasig River or organically. By the late 19th Century, this town and parishes were absorbed to create the modern-day city of Manila planned by American architect Daniel Burnham. However, his plan was never fully realized because of the outbreak of World War II. There are six circumferential roads and ten radial roads in Metro Manila with the City of Manila as its axis (focal center).
- New Clark City — Construction began on January 2018. Phase 1A of the planned city will finish in time of the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
- Quezon City
- Samal, Davao del Norte
- Borne Sulinowo – former German military base, then Soviet secret city, and, since 1993, Polish town
- Nowa Huta – showpiece of Polish socialist realist-era urban planning; now incorporated into the royal city of Kraków
- Starogard Gdański
- Tychy Nowe Tychy, New Tychy 
- Zamość – a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the result of the opulently wealthy Polish Chancellor Jan Zamoyski‘s financial empire; modeled on Italian-Renaissance theories of the “ideal city” and built by the architect Bernardo Morando; a perfect example of late 16th-century Renaissance urban-planning ideals 
- Braga – 16th-century expansion
- Espinho – 19th century
- Lisbon – reconstruction of downtown after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Some other buildings and structures of the city survived or suffered only partial or small degree of damage.
- Nisa – medieval town
- Porto Covo – 18th century
- Vila Nova de Santo André – 20th century
- Vila Real de Santo António – 18th century
Q – R
Cities built in the 1960s
Cities built in the 1970s
Cities built in the 1980s
Cities built in the 1990s
Cities built in the 2000s
Cities built in the 2010s
- Falköping, Västergötland
- Gothenburg, Västergötland and Bohuslän
- Hässleholm, Scania
- Jakriborg, Scania
- Karlshamn, Blekinge (naval fortress town)
- Karlskrona, Blekinge (naval fortress town)
- Kiruna, Lapland
- Kristianstad, Scania (fortress town)
- Nässjö, Småland
- Stockholm, Södermanland and Uppland – satellite towns
This includes all new towns created under the New Towns Act 1946 and successive acts, as well as some communities not designated under this name.
- Hemel Hempstead
- Letchworth Garden City
- Milton Keynes – “New City”
- Welwyn Garden City
New communities built in the Colonial and post-Colonial era
- Annapolis, Maryland
- Augusta, Georgia
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Columbia, South Carolina
- Holyoke, Massachusetts
- Mobile, Alabama
- New Haven, Connecticut – the first planned city in America; designed in 1638
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Raleigh, North Carolina
- Richmond, Virginia
- Rogersville, Tennessee
- Savannah, Georgia
- Washington, D.C.
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Wilmington, North Carolina
- Winston-Salem, North Carolina – planned by the Moravians; later merged with Winston
New communities built in the 19th century
- Amarillo, Texas
- Austin, Texas
- Back Bay – section of Boston, Massachusetts
- Brownsville, Texas
- Buffalo, New York
- Corpus Christi, Texas
- Dallas, Texas
- DuPont, Washington
- Fort Worth, Texas
- Glendale, Ohio
- Houston, Texas
- Huntington, West Virginia
- Indianapolis, Indiana
- Llewellyn Park, New Jersey
- Manchester, New Hampshire
- Most of the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York – New York City originated in the 1620s without a master plan, but the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 defined the street layout for the borough north of Houston Street.
- Memphis, Tennessee – a grid plan with a public promenade along the Mississippi River and four designated public squares; surveyed in 1819
- Midland, Texas
- Milledgeville, Georgia
- New Plymouth, Idaho
- Parksley, Virginia
- Pullman, Illinois – now part of Chicago
- Riverside, Illinois
- San Antonio, Texas
- Salt Lake City, Utah
- Shreveport, Louisiana
- St. Petersburg, Florida
- Tallahassee, Florida
- Tampa, Florida
- Topeka, Kansas
- Vandergrift, Pennsylvania
New communities built in the early 20th century
- Atascadero, California
- Avondale Estates, Georgia
- Baldwin Hills Village, California
- Cerritos, California
- Chatham Village, Pittsburgh
- Commerce, California
- Coral Gables, Florida
- Dundalk, Maryland
- Fairfield, Alabama
- Highland Park, Texas
- Industry, California
- Kingsport, Tennessee
- Longview, Washington
- Mariemont, Ohio
- Minden, Nevada
- Radburn, New Jersey
- Roland Park, Baltimore, Maryland
- Shaker Heights, Ohio
- Sugar Land, Texas
- Sunnyside Gardens, New York
- Twin Falls, Idaho
- Venice, Florida
- The Woodlands, Texas
New communities built with federal aid in the 1930s and for Defense Housing in Early 1940s
Secret cities built as part of the Manhattan Project
New communities built privately in the post-World War II era
New communities built in the 1960s and 1970s
- Anaheim Hills, California*
- Arcosanti, Arizona
- Audubon New Community, New York – near Buffalo
- Aventura, Florida
- Clear Lake City, Houston, Texas
- Columbia, Maryland
- Cold Spring, Maryland – Baltimore
- Coral Springs, Florida
- Coto de Caza, California
- Crofton, Maryland
- First Colony, Sugar Land, Texas – see Sugar Land, Texas
- Foster City, California
- Hawaii Kai, Hawaii
- Irvine, California*
- King City, Oregon
- Kingwood, Houston, Texas
- La Vista, Nebraska
- Las Colinas, Irving, Texas
- Laguna Niguel, California
- Mililani, Hawaii*
- Mission Viejo, California
- Palm Coast, Florida
- Peachtree City, Georgia
- Peachtree Corners, Georgia
- Reston, Virginia
- Rio Rancho, New Mexico
- Sugar Creek, Sugar Land, Texas – see Sugar Land, Texas
- Sunriver, Oregon
- Valley Ranch, Irving, Texas
- Village of Cross Keys, Maryland – see Baltimore, Maryland
- Woodhaven, Fort Worth, Texas
• Anaheim Hills and Irvine, California; and Mililani, Hawaii, began construction in the 1970s, but have not been completed due to their size, and will not be completed for at least ten years.[when?]
New communities sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development after 1970
- Cedar-Riverside, Minnesota – Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Flower Mound, Texas – near Dallas, Texas
- Gananda, New York – near Rochester, New York
- Harbison, South Carolina – near Columbia, South Carolina
- Jonathan, Minnesota – near Minneapolis
- Maumelle, Arkansas – near Little Rock, Arkansas
- Newfields, Ohio – Dayton, Ohio
- Park Forest South, Illinois – near Chicago, Illinois
- Radisson, New York – near Syracuse, New York
- Riverton, New York – near Rochester, New York
- Roosevelt Island, New York – part of New York City
- Shenandoah, Georgia – near Atlanta, Georgia
- Soul City, North Carolina – Warren County, North Carolina
- St. Charles, Maryland – Charles County, Maryland
- San Antonio Ranch, Texas – near San Antonio, Texas
- The Woodlands, Texas – near Houston, Texas
New communities built privately in the 1980s and 1990s
- Aliso Viejo, California
- Anthem, Arizona
- Carolina Forest, South Carolina
- Celebration, Florida
- Eagle Mountain, Utah – planned for 150,000 population
- Greatwood, Sugar Land, Texas – see Sugar Land, Texas
- Kapolei, Hawaii
- Laguna West, California
- New Territory, Sugar Land, Texas – see Sugar Land, Texas
- Phillips Ranch, California
- Port Liberte, New Jersey
- Rancho Santa Margarita, California
- Seaside, Florida
- Southern Village, North Carolina
- Summerlin, Nevada – in the Las Vegas Valley
- Suncadia, Washington
- Viera, Florida
- Westchase, Florida
- Weston, Florida
New communities built privately in the 21st century
- Ave Maria, Florida
- Bayview-Hunters Point, San Francisco, California
- Lakewood Ranch, Florida
- Nocatee, Florida
- Carlton Landing, Oklahoma
Unbuilt or under construction planned cities
The following list is organized by state:
V – Z
Some of these 100’s of NEW CITIES are emptier and more ghost like than others … They are all NEW and erected at an amazing SPEED. Ghost Cities, Empty New Cities, Reset Cities … are now called …
bewitched, bothered and bewildered … ho hum …
( hey, if that doesn’t work to slow down all these curios folks, they can just change the names of these new expensive cities every now and then … so they won’t even show up in 50 years – we can’t let the presstitutes in the Western world learn about THE BIGGEST NEWEST CITIES being con structed all around the world …. ) some of these really BIG new cities have changed their name twice already …
“The new city building movement that we are currently in the middle of is one of the most under the radar and most misinterpreted social and economic developments happening in the world today.”
“Literally, hundreds of entirely new cities have been sprouting up across Asia and Africa since the early 2000s. They are totally new dots on the map with names like Putrajaya, Naypyidaw, Nanhui, Kangbashi, Dompak, and Khorgos. There is a Forest City, a King Abdullah Economic City, a Blue City, a Gracefield Island, a Tbilisi Sea New City, a Port City, a Waterfall City, and, yes, even a Robotic Future City”
“In all, over 40 countries — such as Malaysia, Nigeria, China, Morocco, India, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Oman, Kazakhstan, and Kenya — have dumped billions of dollars into developing new cities from the ground up. Indonesia alone is busy at work constructing no less than 27 new cities.” – Wade Shepard – Forbes Link
Ghost Towns Or Boomtowns? What New Cities Really Become
Thirty years ago hardly anybody other than a Shanghai local would have found any reason to mutter the word “Pudong.” At that time, the place where the vibrant financial center that we know today now sits — the iconic skyline of the city — simply didn’t exist. To tell someone back then that the uninviting mud flats on the other side of the Huangpu river would someday sprout a fertile thicket of skyscrapers that would house the headquarters of the world’s largest and most distinguished financial institutions and companies would have been laughable.
In fact, many did laugh. For many years after the core of Pudong’s financial district was erected, the skyscrapers sat empty — the steel and glass husks of an unrequited dream of development. International observers and onlookers jeered — the place was the laughingstock of Shanghai. Milton Friedman even called the it “a statist monument for a dead pharaoh on the level of the pyramids.” In response to these critics, Mayor Xu Kuangdi admitted that Pudong was like buying a suit a few sizes too big for a growing boy. But the Pudong financial district eventually grew up — now boasting occupancy rates in the ballpark of 99% — and nobody laughs about it being a ghost town anymore.
When I first began my two-year tour of many of China’s so-called “ghost cities” in the spring of 2012 I expected to find vast seas of empty high-rise apartments, barren roadways and shopping malls that were dead on arrival with a background soundtrack made up of echoes, gusts of wind and the sound of my own footsteps. In the beginning, I imagined that I was on the trail of an Atlantean narrative about a society that built too much too fast, and whose arrogant disregard for the laws of economic fundamentals would be its tragic undoing.
But that wasn’t the story that I found. The more underpopulated new cities that I traveled to the more the big picture emerged of a story that was more complex than any mythology-inspired parallel could explain. New city building in China wasn’t just an engineering pursuit but a complete socio-economic experiment of unprecedented scale. It was less about cashing in on constructing new developments than it was priming new economic engines that could create and sustain additional growth, all while curbing the stark social and economic disparity between the east of the country and the west. Using the full gamut of financing, engineering and administrative tools available, China engaged in a full-scale national shake-up, as more than a hundred large-scale urbanization projects were carried out to fruition, being populated with companies, institutions and residents — by guile and fiat. Virtually overnight, former backwaters like Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Xi’an, Kunming and Guiyang emerged as China’s best performing cities, being relaunched with revitalized historic cores paired with shiny new areas that boasted high-tech R&D centers, modern shopping malls, new airports, high-speed rail stations, sprawling industrial zones, and more middle-class housing than anyone could really have any use for.
At that time, the only thing that seemed crazier than a country going out and building hundreds of ghost cities was a country going out and building hundreds of more or less successful new cities and other large-scale urban areas completely from scratched. Today, China’s so-called ghost cities that were so prevalently showcased in 2013 and 2014 are no longer global intrigues. They have filled up to the point of being functioning, normal cities — ex-ghost cities are rarely news. But as far as I was concerned, this was the big story.
Or so I thought.
What I didn’t know at that time was that the new city building boom that I had observed across China was also kicking off in emerging markets across East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The new city building boom
Humans have always built new cities. When we look at the trajectory of history global development we find planned cities everywhere, from the legends of early history to Perth in Western Australia to Buffalo in Western New York. However, right now we are building more new cities, faster, and in more places than at any other point in history, accounting for trillions — yes, trillions — of dollars of investment and indelibly altering hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land and rearranging entire societies. As I previously covered on Forbes:
Literally, hundreds of entirely new cities have been sprouting up across Asia and Africa since the early 2000s. They are totally new dots on the map with names like Putrajaya, Naypyidaw, Nanhui, Kangbashi, Dompak, and Khorgos. There is a Forest City, a King Abdullah Economic City, a Blue City, a Gracefield Island, a Tbilisi Sea New City, a Port City, a Waterfall City, and, yes, even a Robotic Future City. In all, over 40 countries — such as Malaysia, Nigeria, China, Morocco, India, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Oman, Kazakhstan, and Kenya — have dumped billions of dollars into developing new cities from the ground up. Indonesia alone is busy at work constructing no less than 27 new cities.
When emerging markets step on the global stage they tend to be cloaked in new cities. But what do these new cities become?
New cities are often birthed by economic upturns, where governments and development operations in emerging markets suddenly find themselves with both more money than they know what to do with and the realization that they need better, modern infrastructure to support and enhance the newfound growth that they are experiencing.
However, new city building is a long-term game whose natural timeline doesn’t exactly match that of the global economy. Each new project has to endure multiple financial downturns, adjust course when necessary, and even be ready to go dormant when the economic winds are blowing strong in the wrong direction. I do not know of a single new city project that had a clean rise to fruition — rather, the trajectories they take generally have the appearance of a roller coaster.
Putrajaya, promoted as an “Intelligent Garden City,” is the purpose-built capital of Malaysia, and is one of the earliest examples of what the current new city building boom delivers outside of China. Construction began in the early 1990s with the goal of eventually attracting 350,000 people. Today, the city has been built, it is there and functioning, but only 80,000 call it home — and significant developmental reinforcements don’t seem to be on the way.
Meanwhile Cyberjaya, which is more or less located on the other side of a highway from Putrajaya, was also started in the ’90s with the intention of becoming Malaysia’s high-tech hub — the new Silicon Valley of Asia, as the developers put it. A couple of major financial meltdowns dulled the new city’s ambitions and forced it to re-chart its course, but it is now on the road to fruition. While not quite resembling a “Silicon Valley,” it is Malaysia’s startup epicenter, offering an impressive amount of support for promising young companies, as well as acting as a budding education hub. The new city’s full-time population has now topped 15,000, and around 30,000 commuters come in daily. Cyberjaya’s newly established business base coupled with soaring property prices in nearby Kuala Lumpur has also created a real demand for housing that has sparked a new building cycle that is evidenced by the walls of half-completed residential towers looming on every horizon.
Everything about the new city of Songdo in South Korea is artificial — even the land it’s built on. Twenty years ago the place didn’t exist in any form, being located on soil that had been reclaimed from the sea. Songdo can be described as a “city in a box” that was purchased by the Incheon government from foreign developers for $40 billion and snapped together, piece-by-piece, like a pop-up tent. Originally envisioned to become the preeminent international economic hub of northeast Asia, its dreamers did not take a few epic geo-economic plot twists into account. As Greg Lindsay, the co-author of Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next explained to me last summer:
The interesting thing about Songdo is that the city is a weapon, it is a weapon to fight trade wars in Asia. It was founded out of the financial crisis of 1997, 1998 as a way to open up Korea, to bring in foreign direct investment, multinational corporations to try to break the grip of the chaebols. It was thought that Western companies would find it too scary to go to China because of intellectual property theft. But what happened? China joined the WTO in 2001, the free trade agreement with the USA was held up for years… So Songdo continued to grope around for new reasons. It’s a success partially because it’s too big to fail.
Songdo was also meant to be a the most futuristic city in the world, a smart city where all municipal services and even traffic would be controlled from a central command center. The place was loaded with all kinds of IT gadgets that were at the time state of the art but are now somewhat ordinary, providing the world with an important lesson that technology changes faster than new cities can be built.
However, all of this shouldn’t diminish the fact that 130,000 people now call Songdo home, nearly all of the shopfronts on the commercial streets are loaded with restaurants, cafes, and stores, there is a massive modern shopping mall that’s approaching capacity on the east side of the development, there are people in the streets, and pretty much everything else that could realistically be expected of any type of city anywhere.
While many new cities ultimately appear logical in their particular economic contexts, others — such as the $100 billion, 700,000-person Forest City in Malaysia — appear to be overreaching by large margins. And there are others, as Sarah Moser of McGill University points out:
Even Saudi money has been unable to make King Abdullah Economic City into a vibrant city. The plans for a financial center / downtown were put on hold while … [they] built housing. So what there is now, after over 10 years, is one hotel with a branch of Babson College attached to it, some condos, a school, a supermarket, a golf club, a port, an industrial area, and some suburbs. The population is around 4,000 and most of those people work for Emaar [the developer]. The city is designed for 2 million and it is the size of Washington, DC so it feels extremely empty.
First impressions mean little
While it’s common for onlookers to criticize new cities and shower them with proclamations of doom, we are all too often too quick at the trigger — a fact that was clearly pointed out with a big chuckle by Olufemi Babalola, the visionary behind Nigeria’s Gracefield Island new city:
I saw the Canary Wharf in London, England. I saw it coming up. I saw it when it was the backwaters of East London, when people doubted the viability of such a project in that part of the city and the bashing the project got in the press. Eventually, it came up and those same newspapers now have their offices in the Canary Wharf.
New cities are generally built on 20- to 30-year timelines, and if given the proper amount of time to develop there’s actually very few examples of ones that have failed completely. While most large-scale urbanization projects don’t become as successful as Pudong’s financial district or many of the other new districts and cities of China’s inland provincial capitals, most become functioning urban areas nonetheless — albeit toned-down, humbled versions of what they were originally envisioned to become.
I’m the author of Ghost Cities of China and have been traveling perpetually since 1999 — through 88+ countries. I can often be found in some new city or somewhere along the New Silk Road.