13.1 The central business district
The CBD contains consumer, business and public services.
CBD in metropolitan areas
by Wendell Cox 03/27/2014
Photographs of downtown skylines are often the "signature" of major metropolitan areas, as my former Amtrak Reform Council colleague and then Mayor of Milwaukee (later President and CEO of the Congress of New Urbanism) John Norquist has rightly said. The cluster of high rise office towers in the central business district (CBD) is often so spectacular – certainly compared with an edge city development or suburban strip center – as to give the impression of virtual dominance. I have often asked audiences to guess how much of a metropolitan area's employment is in the CBD. Answers of 50 percent to 80 percent are not unusual. In fact, the average is 7 percent in the major metropolitan areas (over 1,000,000) and reaches its peak at only 22 percent in New York (Figure 1), which sports the second largest business district in the world (after Tokyo).
Downtown metropolitan employment
Only seven of the 52 major metropolitan areas have CBDs with 10 percent or more of employment. Some are much lower. For example, Los Angeles and Dallas have had some of the nation's tallest skyscrapers outside New York or Chicago for decades, yet these downtowns have only 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent of their metropolitan area employment respectively (Figure 2