Talk:Central business district

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Where does the term "downtown" actually come from? My assumption as German is that New York was the first example and it comes from the geographic locations of "Downtown" and "Uptown" on the island of Manhattan as seen on a map (going down - to the south, that is). Can anybody confirm or reject that and insert the explanation in the article? Thanks. -- 12:47, 6 September 2005 (UTC)

"City center"/"City Center" Redirects[edit]

I noticed that the redirect on City center went back and forth from New York City Center and here. I figure it doesn't require an entire disambiguation page so I just added :''"City center" redirects here. For the performing arts venue, see [[New York City Center]].'' to the top of the page. As for City Center, I think it should go to New York City Center because it's a proper noun. -Haon 20:25, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

Why be in the CBD?[edit]

Why do companies headquarter themselves downtown? (Yes, for some companies, such as financial, this makes sense, but for others it doesn't.) In the age of telecommunications and sky-high rents (not to mention the severe space limitations), it seems more practical for companies to be located away from the center.

People also mention prestige, but as land values increase, I have a harder time believing that's worth it. Ditto, even, for financial companies. So what's the deal? --Atlastawake 21:59, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Because it makes it easier to do business with other companies if they are closer to your location. --Kmsiever 15:44, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
Ah, because CBD's usually have mass transit and it is easier to get there as a workplace than in areas too far away from the central districts. I live in Mexico City, and reaching the central CBD's is faster than trying to reach suburban areas (like Santa Fe CBD, very nice place but it is about an hour away from almost any location in the city). Danix 04:46, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

Downtown is the usual term in HONG KONG???[edit]

I don't think so. I haven't ever heard that Tsim Sha Tsui and Central are called as "downtown" or "CBD". The usual terms for Tsim Sha Tsui is "TST" (written language) or "Tsim Tsui" (spoken language). Central is "Central".

List of some notable CBDs and downtowns[edit]

Does anyone else see this list becoming unwieldy. Would it be more appropriate for the list to be moved to its own article and then link to it from here? --Kmsiever 15:44, 27 March 2006 (UTC)

It struck me as being a little weird, too. I would move it, as well as take out some of the pictures. -- 09:30, 8 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposal to merge[edit]

Both CBD and downtown are rather small and are covering the same subject. The minor differences would be better described in a section instead of separate articles. -- Goldie (tell me) 13:00, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. The origin of the American definition in Manhattan's geography is quite significant and should be treated in a separate article as it currently stands. --Coolcaesar 22:11, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
So you are proposing to have separate article not because it is U.S.A./Canada-specific but because it is Manhattan-specific? It is my understanding that these specifics are subject of article Manhattan and the merged one might refer to the latter in the North-American section. -- Goldie (tell me) 12:03, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with merge as downtown refers to one business area of New York with the other being Midtown. The article also discusses the use of Downtown and Uptown as directional. CBD refers to a centralised busness district as such though the terms when misused cross over they arent sufficiently identical that an incorrect use of either term could be acceptable. Gnangarra 13:10, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Disagree academic geography has very distinct usage of these two terms, and also Central Business District is across cultures, while 'downtown' tends to be usage in american usage rather than other cultures - surely there is an International Standard Organisation number for this sort of thing yes? SatuSuro 13:30, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
I Disagree with the proposal to merge articles. New Orleans CBD is located uptown (not downtown), which supports SatuSuro's point of view. Bellemare 8 September 2006
Disagree Ansett 08:23, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
As a practicing city planner/urban design professional I ardently oppose the proposed merger. A "Downtown" is based on a fundamentally distinct concept from a "Central Business District" or CBD. They perform different cultural and economic functions for the city, as a whole. A "downtown" is more closely related to the concept of a "town center"--normally the hub of many varied functions--civic, social, economic and governmental--while a "central business district" is primarily limited (whether by zoning and use restrictions or simply by practice and the evolution of the urban space) to economic functions. The cultural component particularly provides a distinguishing characteristic. The simple fact that in NYC these two have been functionally mereged does NOT mean that the concepts are the same--I could name multiple urban areas that have segregated these functions into different areas. Further, I feel that wording in the current "Central Business District" entry should be revised to remove implications and statements that the two terms are synonymous. Jwest1883 17:26, 12 October 2006 (UTC)
If you don't mind me asking, where are you from? I thought that "downtown" was a word unique to the US. Judging by the CBD article, that is exactly the definition of downtown that is in common use in America. For the few Americans who have heard the phrase "central business district," we know it as the British/Australian synonym for "downtown". Pick any American city (New York, LA, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Orlando, or most any other), the area referred to as downtown is the place with the tall buildings (and usually city hall). Downtown isn't a uniquely New York concept. You said you're an urban planner. I don't doubt that there's a distinction in your field, but colloquially, they're identical. Just check any American dictionary to see what I mean ( or even I am strongly for the merge. I think it makes much more sense, at least from an American perspective, to make "downtown" redirect to "CBD" and include those two or three sentences from the "downtown" article in the CBD article. 00:19, 12 December 2006 (UTC)
First I'll address your question, "Where are you from?" That would be difficult to answer--I'm from many places, not all of them in the US; however, I currently live in Atlanta, GA. Despite your assertion that, in the UK (where I have spent a considerable amount of time), the two are synonomous,in the discussion below, both JoeD and Anthony seem to feel that, though the dictionary may equate the terms, there are some important technical differences based on their observations in the UK. Second, I'll address your argument. You mentioned "common use" and how the terms are used "colloquially"; however,it says quite clearly at the top of this discussion page "This article is part of WikiProject Urban Studies and Planning, an attempt to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to Urban studies and planning on Wikipedia." Your assertion of what is common use and what is colloquial--or even what is said in a dictionary--is irrelevant in the attempt to assemble an encyclopedic guide for the field of urban planning. Though your wording became somewhat murky, I think by pointing out examples of cities in which the "downtown" and the "CBD" are in the same place that you mean to imply that they are the same thing---even though you end your list with "or most any other," which by its very inclusion introduces doubt into your statement. You point to the location of "the tall buildings" as the determining factor. Most cities don't have "tall buildings" (because most cities aren't metropolises) though most cities do have "downtowns" and many have CBDs; furthermore, many metropolises have multiple nodes of tall buildings---are they all "downtown"? are they all called the CBD? Discussion of the location of tall buildings is unproductive. Additionally, for clarification, I never argued that the notion of "downtown" was unique to New York City. Rather, I was responding to an earlier point by another discussant who felt, like you, that because in many places (NYC being his/her example) the downtown and the CBD are co-located and functionally identical that they are conceptually identical. Jwest1883 17:30, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
I tend to agree with Jwest1883 for the same reasons he mentions. Downtown, even if coined as a U.S. word, defines a concept that is translated equally to other languages (Centro in Spanish, or sometimes Inner City, Central City or similars). Plus, some cities have their CBD's outside the downtown area, or have multiple CBD's in the case of large metropolitan areas. One example could be Mexico City, as it has many CBD's, most of them outside the Centro Historico (downtown) area. 05:01, 3 April 2007 (UTC)

City centres[edit]

I was thinking of adding something to the city centre section, but I'm not sure the best way to go about it, and don't want to fall foul of WP:NOR by just describing my experiences. In the US a downtown is just a concentration of businesses -- office blocks and the like. There may be a couple of department stores and perhaps some upmarket shops and resturants. In the UK, however, the "city centre" tends not just to be where the office blocks are, but where the high street (main street for the Americans) shopping is, with the sort of chain stores that in the US would all have moved out to the malls. Additionally the city centre is the centre of culture, where the museums, art galleries, theatres, cinemas and music venues are -- things that in many US cities are not found downtown. In this sense, some of those east coast US cities would qualify as "city centre", including those that aren't geographically centre (yeah, why is Boston listed as having a geographically central Downtown? Surely, it has a downtown on the coast, with suburbs stretching out to the west?). Joe D (t) 19:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

I strongly agree with Joe D (above) because of the techinical differences between what (according to the dictionary) are two identical terms - Main Street and High Street. Downtown tends to be strictly commercial with no Main/High Street. However, in the UK the CBD (or City Centre) has a high concentration of both Retail sector (located on the High Street) and Commercial (often located near the Retail areas). Anthony 12:05, 10 September 2006 (UTC) (Talk to Me)



  • In my opinion, CBD and Downtown should be kept as two seperate articles because Downtown tends to be a US English word, and CBD tends to be UK English. This is why I oppose the merge, because it would cause some confusion if Downtown is merged into CBD (to US English speakers) and confusion if CBD merged into downtown (to UK English speakers). However, I think that a prominent link to Downtown should be given in the CBD article and vice verca.
Please reply with your opinion.
Anthony 12:02, 10 September 2006 (UTC) (Talk to Me)


  • I support the merge - this is an English Wikipedia and should seek to amalgamate British and American English, not separate them. The current CBD article makes it very clear about what is what, and is a much more complete article in general. Merging the articles will highlight the fact that they are synonymous. DJR (T) 21:12, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
  • I strongly support the merge. From an American perspective, they're synonymous, and it's extremely inaccurate and confusing to imply otherwise. The CBD article is more complete, put the few unique sentences from the "downtown" article into the "CBD" article and make "downtown" redirect here. (I elaborated more above in the other voting section). 00:22, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

Do downtowns even exist outside of North America?[edit]

I read an article in The Economist which said, among other things:

"Downtowns are an American invention, says Joel Kotkin, an expert on cities. London, Paris and Tokyo all lack a single centre where commerce, entertainment, shopping and political power are concentrated. Such cores did emerge in early 20th-century American cities thanks to steel-frame architecture, which made it possible to build high, and because they had central railway stations. Fifty years later, almost all were gutted by the internal-combustion engine, which enabled people and jobs to move to the suburbs. They have been trying to revive themselves ever since."

I think needs to be mentioned at the very least. At worst we could be conflating two separate things: a North American (esp. western parts) style downtown which is the centre of everything in the city vs. a financial district which may not be the same as the main shopping district which may not be the same as the main arts district, which could be different from the main administrative district, which is certainly different from "old town" section of most walled cities. Thoughts? Kevlar67 08:36, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

That's a very strange-sounding quote. Major European cities definitely have a central area ("city centre" in the UK and Ireland) that does contain a concentration of commerce, entertainment, shopping and political power. If anything, European activities are more concentrated in such dense urban places, with London and Paris definitely having all of this in central areas.

Indeed, compared to global national capitals like Washington DC, Canberra or Ottawa, which are smaller than their country's largest cities and often boast only a subset of cultural or commercial activities compared with their country's biggest cities, European city centres seem to fit perfectly with the concept of "downtown". 20:58, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

I think you missed the point. London and Paris have several centres of density and commericial activity, not one. In most European cities I've been to the transition from the most dense centre to the least dense outskirts is gradual and not pronounced. If anything there are more high-rise towers (usually low-rent) in the suburbs in most European cities then there are in the centre. This is the opposite of many North American and Australian cities which have a small hyper-dense core surrounded by huge expanses of low-density suburbs. This is reflected in average house sizes and average commute times which are both substantially higher in North America than Europe. --Kevlar (talkcontribs) 21:37, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

Yes, downtowns (by any other name) DO EXIST in cities outside of North America, the clearest example of which is the City of London ("The City"), which is downtown in both senses of the word, viz. a remnant of medieval urban town centres, as well as a modern-day high density, high land-use CBD. If you need more confirmation, the CBDs of Australian cities are cases in point. My goodness, the person asking this question (Kevlar67) seems like a 'Murican who thinks only Americans live in cities and the rest of the world live in ramshackle mud-huts! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:02, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Proposal to eliminate commercial district or add section here[edit]

A generic "commercial district" is NOT JUST a CBD. I think its very strange there is no separate article for it but it should be addressed that cities can have multiple commercial districts and the redirect is a bit misleading. A CBD is a VERY SPECIFIC district and there usually can only be one. Davumaya 21:38, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

"CBD" used in UK or Ireland?[edit]

I've only heard the term "CBD" used once in Ireland, and that was by a New Zealander. Is there any evidence of its use in the UK or Ireland? "City centre" is a more usual term. 21:00, 14 August 2007 (UTC)


I'm not sure that this page needs the gallery. People can pick up pictures of CBDs anywhere. I'd like to delete it. SuzanneKn (talk) 18:06, 20 April 2008 (UTC)


Contrary to the article, Philadelphia's downtown is referred to as Center City not City Center. The appropriate change has been made. (talk) 21:07, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

differentiating between commercial and financial district[edit]

This article doesn't differentiate between commercial district (shopping district) and financial district (office district). In smaller cities there might not be any difference, but in large cities, the distinction is pretty clear. --Voidvector (talk) 04:15, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

CBD vs. commercial district[edit]

Not every commercial or finacial district is in the centre of a city. This article should deal with all commercial districts regardless of where in the city they are located. --Kevlar (talkcontribs) 02:41, 9 October 2008 (UTC)

I strongly disagree. CBDs by definition are VERY different from ordinary commercial districts. For example, shopping at the Garden State Plaza in suburban New Jersey is not quite as impressive as shopping on Fifth Avenue in the middle of Manhattan. Similarly, suburban Walnut Creek, California has nice office buildings and shopping, but it's not the same as Union Square in downtown San Francisco. You need to travel more and take a course in cultural geography. --Coolcaesar (talk) 04:59, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Also to make this clearer, most CBDs are central in the sense that everything else revolves around them, even if they are not physically in the center of the city. I'm thinking of places like La Defense in Paris. La Defense is not exactly in the center city proper, but it is clearly where all the largest French corporations are based. --Coolcaesar (talk) 05:01, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
More clarification: The term "central business district" is essentially a term of art in geography circles as well as in Commonwealth English in general. You might not like it, but that's the terminology in common use and it's here to stay (I don't like it either because as an American I prefer the word downtown). It's kind of like how lawyers use the term proximate cause even though that doctrine as applied actually does not have much to do with causation per se. But it's just the name that stuck. --Coolcaesar (talk) 05:03, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
If there is enough documentation supporting the application of the term CBD to areas that are not geographically central (e.g. La Defense) and to places that don't officially use the term, then I am prepared to retire from the field. I do not doubt that the term CBD is used. I doubt whether its usage is as universal as is presented in the article. Not all cities call their main commericial centre the CBD. And by "commerical" are we refering to retail or to banks and stock exchanges? (see above comment). Undoubtedly there other terms. What I question is wether what geographers and planners (how many?) call a "CBD" really emcompasses all the neighbourhoods in question. Can we really use CBD as a catch-all to replace them all? Is there evidence that supports its universal application? Are we do asume that a CBD includes all of these: downtown, high street, main street, financial district, shopping district, city centre. Should they all redirect here? (Not to mention Innenstadt, Stadtmitte, centre-ville, distrito centro, etc.) --Kevlar (talkcontribs) 21:31, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
No, the entire point is that the CBD term IS NOT UNIVERSAL in the sense of a general catch-all term but rather, has a precise definition in Commonwealth English. That's exactly why we have different articles on all those different types of concentrations of retail, office, and other commercial activities. You're looking for a catch-all term that doesn't exist and probably never will. If you attempt to artificially merge the concepts into a composite entity that doesn't really exist, then that's original research and that's banned under Wikipedia official policy WP:NOR. The whole point of a hypertext encyclopedia is that we can have separate articles on each of the distinct concepts you listed rather than trying to fuse them into a single unwieldy discussion. It sounds like you might not be familiar with ontology (information science). --Coolcaesar (talk) 09:08, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

New Proposal[edit]

I think we may have been misunderstanding each other. We may agree more than it seems, but I may not have explained myself well. My original point: the term CBD is being used as a catch-all here, when clearly it is not a catch-all term. What I am proposing is restricting the use of the term CBD to its proper context. My problem is that commercial district redirects here, when it should not. Initially I proposed repurposing this article to include all commericial districts. Instead, why don't we create a new article at commercial district and clearly differentiate the two concepts. Would you support that move? --Kevlar (talkcontribs) 02:06, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree with your analysis of our misunderstanding and I would support making commercial district into a separate article in its own right. --Coolcaesar (talk) 05:10, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
commercial district, is now under construction, but I'm sort on references. Any you assist? --Kevlar (talkcontribs) 21:47, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Midtown NYC[edit]

The Biggest CBD in North America is not even pictured in this article, however, they choose Chicago Instead. Shouldn't New York's Midtown Manhattan be pictured here?(just an Opinion)EdwinCasadoBaez (talk) 20:02, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

And doesn't New York's Midtown prove that a "central business district" need not be the "downtown"? Zaslav (talk) 04:26, 13 June 2010 (UTC)

business district != downtown/city centre[edit]

La defense in Paris is a business district. It has nothing to do with a city centre. While you'll definitely find businesses in the city centre, a business district is where you'll exclusively find businesses (and usually headquarters). This article doesn't treat the subject at all, and is very confusing.Ren 17:13, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

maybe useful definition?[edit] (talk) 14:48, 10 August 2010 (UTC)

Secondary Central business district[edit]

Secondary Central business district will be allways beside the main central Central business district in big cities or in near city beside a big city or metropolis. פארוק (talk) 14:47, 27 April 2011 (UTC)


This word adds nothing and could be misleading. A city's business-district could be away from the centre, as with London's docklands. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:10, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

Few London / UK mentions[edit]

The article fails to elaborate on the 2 main business districts in London. It's mentioned briefly twice but there isn't any clear section for the UK. Furthermore the UK has several other business district, especially in Birmingham, Liverpool and Salford - Manchester. I would suggest that a UK section is pivotal to this article as the UK was one of the very first countries in the world to introduce the concept of a business district. Furthermore currently London's business disctrict(s) is one of the most influential in the world, besides the architecure is amazing and a picture is needed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by A Gooner (talkcontribs) 20:34, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

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CBDs for kids[edit]

A CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT U IDIOT — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:37, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

other types of Central business district[edit]

1 - Metropolitan Central business district - a Central business district that common to several cities.
2 - International Central business district - like Moscow International Business Center
פארוק (talk) 16:08, 21 May 2012 (UTC)

Why most of tall buildings are concentrated in CBD?[edit]

Doing business is a matter with tall building? (talk) 09:41, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

About Europe[edit]

Several sentences don't make sense at all. In Italy, even in larger cities like MIlan, financial institutions are clustered in more than one district, as they congregate together in available sites AMONG the old city itself. Therefore there is no CENTRAL business district, it is not unique, and it can be everywhere in a city (certainly not at its very centre, as there are usually piazzas and other social spaces).

Also, its association with tall buildings is mainly an American concept. Skyscrapers in the City of London came way later than in North America. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:40, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

I agree with what you wrote about Italy, but I disagree with your conclusion. The existence of a business district does not require that all the financial institution are located there, it is just a place that was designed to host financial institutions (as well as companies headquarters, national agencies, etc.) and does host a significant number of them -- not necessarily all. Besides, I think this is valid everywhere, not only for Italy.
OK for the rest

LNCSRG (talk) 06:44, 19 April 2014 (UTC)