London was but is no longer the biggest city in the world

London has been big, the biggest city in the British Isles for a long time. In the nineteenth century, following the industrial revolution, it experienced unparalleled growth as the capital of a new British Empire fuelled by steam power and gunpowder. Subsequently by the middle of the nineteenth century London, with two million people, it became the biggest city in the world. Although the population of London continued to grow in the early twentieth century reaching its peak in 1939 at 8.6 million, it was surpassed by New York in the early 1920s, which itself was experiencing a boom, receiving immigrants from all around the world, and from Europe in particular. London’s population started to go into decline with the advent of the Second World War, and experienced even more loss during the 1970s and 1980s, such that it sunk to a population of 6 million by the beginning of the 1980s. Since then whilst the population has increased it has never topped the 8.6 million that it had in 1939. With the world’s population growing at an exponential rate, resulting in huge urban agglomerations, London is today, far from being the biggest city in the world. It is said that today, London’s population stands at eight million, which makes the city, in global terms, a quaint place. London, then, has become a dwarf star, an empire upon which the sun finally set and collapsed. Since the beginning of the twentieth century the population of London has waxed and waned, and other cities around the world, lying at the centre of processes of urbanisation, characterised the world over, and have grown to dwarf London, to make it feel like a quaint historic town in comparison.

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