Everybody has met a small man with a big ego sometime during their life. Aren’t they a pain? They are either bragging about their sexual competency, or flexing their biceps, or telling their work colleagues how they single-handedly kicked the s*** out of five gorillas the previous Friday night. Most, if not all, of these stories are complete codswallop and offer a tonic to their real acknowledgement of their size and capabilities.
I think Dublin, the Republic’s capital city, has a touch of the ‘little man syndrome’. It may be a good night out for stag and hen parties; it certainly has its fair share of interesting history; and it undoubtedly has been at the vanguard of that country’s economic growth over the past ten years or so. But let’s not pretend it is anything other than a minor player in the league of world cities. Nor should we think it is a large city by European standards, let alone global ones.
So I had to chuckle yesterday when I read reports from the Irish Urban Forum about how Dublin could soon have an urban sprawl the size of Los Angeles. Los Angeles lies at the heart of the world’s largest continuous urban area. At over a thousand square miles it is half as big again as London’s (which itself is by far the largest in Europe). Even at current growth rates, it would take Dublin another 200 or so years to equal the size of London, let alone that of LA. This is a recent satellite image of Dublin taken by NASA 200 miles about the earth. The orange area clearly indicates the limit of urban growth. By comparison this is a satellite image of Los Angeles taken from five times the distance away. Even from 1,000 miles up in the sky, there is simply no comparison. If anything, this report shows a predilection for certain Irish agencies to engage in sensationalist forecasts, and the willingness of the Irish media – caught up in the wave of economically-inspired arrogance, to go along with them.
Dublin was always marketed as an almost quaint city. It would be better and more believable if the same method of promotion was applied. I concede that Dublin has experienced considerable change over recent times – in all sorts of positive ways. It still shouldn’t brag in a manner that causes those of us who live in countries with GENUINELY massive cities to giggle uncontrollably by making out it is up there with the big boys.