Central business district

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"City center" redirects here. For the performing arts venue, see New York City Center.

A Central business district (CBD) or downtown is a commercial heart of a city. Downtown is the usual term in North America. In the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, parts of South Africa and New Zealand, the term "central business district" is used by geographers and sometimes colloquially.

City centre is an alternative term, the usual phrase used in Britain and also in some urban areas of British influenced countries (e.g. the Commonwealth) and China (Chinese: 市中心, can also be translated as "city core"). In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand, the term is often just shortened to the single word "city" in general conversation among residents of a city, giving rise to the phrase "going to the city". One exception is in London where "the City" specifically refers to the City of London financial district rather than to any other part of central London. Some cities in the United States have a mixed use district known as uptown near the downtown area. In Minneapolis, for example, Uptown is a district nearly adjacent to downtown, centered around the Uptown Theater on the intersection of Lagoon St. and Hennepin Ave. On the other hand, in some cities, like Charlotte, North Carolina, uptown is simply the historic name for the business center. Many cities, such as New York or Toronto, will have several CBD's in their resepective cities (both have 4).

Image:New York from Empire State Building.jpg
New York City's Midtown is an example of an urban downtown district typically found in North America

The CBD or downtown is the central district of a city, usually typified by a concentration of retail and commercial buildings. Although applicable to any city, both terms usually refer to larger cities.

The term city centre (or center city) is similar to CBD or downtown in that both serve the same purpose for the city, and both are seen by a higher-than-usual urban density as well as the often having the tallest buildings in a city. City centre differs from downtown in that downtown can be geographically located anywhere in a city, while city centre is located near the geographic heart of the city. Examples of a city centre can be found in Tokyo, San Diego, Jakarta, Manila, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montreal, London, and other cities. London effectively has three city centres rolled into one, namely the City of London, the mediaeval City of Westminster, and the newly built Canary Wharf.

[edit] List of typical CBD characteristics

A CBD is likely to have many of the following characteristics:

  • It has a distinct land use pattern that can be delimited from the rest of the settlement.
  • It is the geographical centre of the settlement.
  • It contains the settlement's main public buildings.
  • It contains the major retail outlets (though this may be less often the case, especially in the United States and Canada).
  • Similar activities within it are concentrated in certain areas (functional zoning).
  • It features vertical zoning.
  • It has the greatest concentration and number of pedestrians and traffic in general.
  • It is a focal point for transport.
  • It contains the greatest proportion of the settlement's offices.
  • It has the tallest buildings in the region to maximize land use.
  • It has the highest land values of the region.
  • It attracts people from outside its sphere of influence to work and spend money inside.
  • It is advancing into new areas (assimilation) and/or losing old commercial functions (discard).

[edit] List of some notable CBDs and downtowns


Image:ShanghaiSkyscape pmorgan.jpg
The old city core of Shanghai, Huangpu District, viewed across the river from the new city core, Lujiazui.


Image:050114 2495 london city.jpg
The eastern side of the City of London viewed from St Paul's Cathedral. Canary Wharf (in the neighbouring borough of Tower Hamlets) is on the horizon.
Quartier de La Défense in Paris, the largest CBD in Europe


Image:Moon Monster2.jpg
Downtown San Diego at night

North America

Image:Sydney skyline.jpg
A view of the Sydney CBD viewed from the eastern part of the harbour
Image:King st melbourne CBD.jpg
Trees surrounded by buildings, King St. Melbourne


South America

fr:Central business district is:Miðborg hu:Belváros ja:街 pl:CBD pt:Centro financeiro zh:中心商务区

Central business district

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