An even-keeled metro enters the perfect economic storm
If Washington, D.C., is a developmentally stunted city, we can always blame the French. Designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant to resemble Paris on the Potomac, the city later reaffirmed its vow to his vision of squat buildings by passing, in 1910, the Heights of Buildings Act to ensure that no building could rise above 160 feet.
One century later, Washington, D.C., arguably looks more like L'Enfant's Paris than modern Paris does. La Défense, the business district seen above before an orange haze, is the European continent's largest business
district, where a cluster of glass and steel giants hold more than 1,000 corporate head offices, 15 of the top 50 companies in the world, and more Fortune 500 companies than any city except Tokyo.
No mere historical relic, Paris is by many accounts one of the five most powerful cities in the world. According to the often-cited A.T. Kearney Global Cities Index, only New York and London are stronger across business activity, human capital, and culture. Although its metro population is less than half the size of mega-tropolises like Mumbai and Tokyo, Paris has the fourth most middle-class families (income > $20,000) within its limits.