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Varieties of Capital Cities

The Competitiveness Challenge for Secondary Capitals

David Kaufmann

The political and symbolic centrality of capital cities has been challenged by increasing economic globalization. This is especially true of secondary capital cities; capital cities which, while being the seat of national political power, are not the primary economic city of their nation state. David Kaufmann examines the unique challenges that these cities face entering globalised, inter-urban competition while not possessing a competitive political economy.
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Chapter 7: Washington, DC: the capital of the free world

David Kaufmann

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Washington, DC represents a unique case within the US urban system because of its constitutional status and its many capital city specific local autonomy constraints. The District of Columbia is neither a state nor a city within a state, but it bears the responsibilities of a state as well as those of a county, a city, and a school district, yet does not have the authority to raise revenue the way all other states do. The overall aim of the locational policies agenda in DC is to become a competitive international business city. However, DC simultaneously tries to consider the needs of its longstanding residents. Furthermore, DC pushes large-scale development projects. In general, the DC administration faces the challenge of balancing its locational policies agenda and its social agenda. Its ambitions to become a global powerhouse (sometimes) clash with the needs of its poorer residents.

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