City breaks are all the rage these days – but what is it that truly sets one city apart from another?
Is it the people, the history, the architecture, or the industry? Or might it be the unique fingerprint that these factors and more combine to create?
Take London for instance. It’s not the biggest city in the world, yet everything happens at such tremendous scale that England’s capital has had a gravitational pull on career-chasers and fun-lovers from all around the globe. Home to a historic royal family; headquarters of the most pompous of fallen empires; there’s little that’s modest to be found in London town.
Except, that is, for the fact that ordinary, inventive Brits and migrants have sought to create nooks and crannies to call their own. You’re never far from a cozy pub or a hidden park, a shop-front gallery or a family-run greengrocers. If you can balance your trip between ‘bucket list’ sights such as Big Ben and community-run entertainment like the co-operative Deptford Cinema, you’ll see a truer, more complex picture of London emerge.
It’s just this kind of living contradiction that stirred the imagination of the good people at Big Domain. For their latest picture set, they’ve designed a series of multiple exposure images to give a multi-layered impression of ten popular cities – including, naturally, London. Their picture of the Big Smoke itself features chic everyday people, cycling commuters, and counter-culture skateboarders against a backdrop of the Houses of Parliament and tourist mainstay The London Eye.
Other cities from across the world get similar treatment. New York is a younger city than London, but features a comparable blend of high culture and street fashion, busy professionals and iconic transport networks. Visitors to New York can expect to chill in the Greenwich Village cafés in the day before taking in a Broadway show in the evening – or perhaps taking it slow and making your way out for an all-night party in the city that never sleeps.
But other cities celebrate a wholly different culture cocktail. New York is but an afterthought in the history of civilization next to ancient Cairo. While Egypt’s capital can boast a couple of dozen skyscrapers of its own, the real architectural features here go back millennia – The Great Pyramid and Sphinx are just a stone’s throw from town. The heart of the city itself is a colorful, shoulder-to-shoulder experience of street trade and colorful invention. Take a look at Big Domain’s composite picture, and you can almost hear the everyday life!
Sydney, Australia is another proposition again. Young, like New York, and down-to-Earth like London, Sydney’s culture is all the same far more laid back and easy-going than its northern counterparts. That’s not to say it’s quiet. A trip to the beach beats a trip to the pub, and you’ll usually find a party in the air when you arrive. The famous Opera House offers refined entertainment in the evening (or just a great view during the day) before you finally cave and head to the bar to begin an evening of Aussie-style debauchery!
And let's not overlook the cities of Asia. Delhi, Hong Kong, and Tokyo all feature in Big Domain’s photoset, and they each have their own charm to offer – from the elegance and innovation of Tokyo, to the bustle and spice of Hong Kong, to Delhi’s curious clash of ancient spirituality and thriving business scene.
It all adds up to a picture of the 21st century metropolis that has to be experienced to be understood. Take a glance at these pictures, and hopefully it’ll be a bit easier to decide which one to visit first!