Central business district

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Midtown Manhattan in New York City, the largest central business district in the world. Shown is the terraced crown of the Chrysler Building lit at dawn. ChryslerBuildingMidtownManhattanNewYorkCity.jpg
Midtown Manhattan in New York City, the largest central business district in the world. Shown is the terraced crown of the Chrysler Building lit at dawn.

A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and business center of a city. In larger cities, it is often synonymous with the city's "financial district". Geographically, it often coincides with the "city centre" or "downtown", but the two concepts are separate: many cities have a central business district located away from its commercial or cultural city centre or downtown, or even several CBDs at once. In London, for example, the "city centre" is usually regarded as encompassing the historic City of London and the mediaeval City of Westminster, whereas the City of London and the transformed Docklands area are regarded as its two CBDs. In New York City, Midtown Manhattan is the largest central business district in the city and in the world; yet Lower Manhattan, commonly called Downtown Manhattan, represents the second largest, and second, distinct CBD in New York City and is geographically situated south of Midtown. In Chicago, the Chicago Loop is the second largest central business district in the United States and is also referred to as the core of the city's downtown. Mexico City also has a historic city centre, the colonial-era Centro Histórico, along with two CBDs: the mid-late 20th century Paseo de la ReformaPolanco, and the new Santa Fe.


The shape and type of a CBD almost always closely reflect the city's history. Cities with strong preservation laws and maximum building height restrictions to retain the character of the historic and cultural core will have a CBD quite a distance from the centre of the city. This is quite common for European cities such as Paris or Vienna. In cities in the New World that grew quickly after the invention of mechanised modes such as road or rail transport, a single central area or downtown will often contain most of the region's tallest buildings and act both as the CBD and the commercial and cultural city center. Increasing urbanisation in the 21st century have developed megacities, particularly in Asia, that will often have multiple CBDs scattered across the urban area. It has been said that downtowns (as understood in North America) are therefore conceptually distinct from both CBDs and city centers. [1] No two CBDs look alike in terms of their spatial shape, however certain geometric patterns in these areas are recurring throughout many cities due to the nature of centralised commercial and industrial activities. [2]


In Australia the acronym CBD is used very commonly to refer to major city "centres". [3] It is used in particular to refer to the skyscraper districts in state capital cities such as Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney.


The iTowers of Masa Square CBD were built for doing business tasks only. It is located within Gaborone.


Skyscrapers in downtown Toronto, Canada. Toronto Financial District August 2017.jpg
Skyscrapers in downtown Toronto, Canada.

In Canada, central business districts are referred to as downtown or downtown core and are mostly highlighted by skyscrapers. In Quebec and the rest of French Canada, they are known as centre-ville. Toronto has Downtown Toronto (the largest in Canada), which includes the Financial District of Canada, major sporting and entertainment venues, educational institutions and multiple corporate headquarters. Additional central business districts in Toronto's divisions Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough serve their respective populations as local commercial areas. Midtown Toronto is another secondary central business district that rapidly developed during the 20th century from initially being a suburb. Toronto's surrounding suburban cities of Mississauga, Vaughan and Markham contain developed or developing central business districts.

Other major Canadian cities, including Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg also contain downtown districts with skyscrapers above 200 metres in height. Cities, such as Quebec City, Halifax, and Ottawa, mostly contain downtowns with cultural and heritage landmarks which restrict the heights of developments.

Mainland China

Lujiazui, Shanghai. Lujiazui 2016.jpg
Lujiazui, Shanghai.
Beijing CBD, Beijing. Guomao Skyline.jpg
Beijing CBD, Beijing.

In China terms "city centre" (Chinese: 市中心) are used but a different commercial district outside of the historic core typically called a "CBD" (中央商务区) or "Financial District" (金融贸易区) may exist. Large Chinese cities typically have multiple CBDs spread throughout the urban area. Cities traditionally being major cultural centres with many historic structures in the core such as Beijing, Suzhou or Xi'an will have the greenfield CBDs built adjacent to the urban core, similar to European cities. While other cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Wuhan the city centre will typically house a number of CBDs in addition to greenfield CBDs built in the periphery.


In France, the term "quartier d’affaires" may be used to describe the central business district. The main business districts in the country are as follows:


Central business district of Frankfurt, Germany. Frankfurt Am Main-Stadtansicht von der Deutschherrnbruecke zu Beginn der Abenddaemmerung.jpg
Central business district of Frankfurt, Germany.

In Germany, the terms Innenstadt and Stadtzentrum may be used to describe the central business district. Both terms can be literally translated to mean "inner city" and "city centre". Some of the larger cities have more than one central business district, like Berlin, which has three.

Due to Berlin's history of division during the Cold War, the city contains central business districts both in West (Kurfürstendamm) and East Berlin (Alexanderplatz), as well as a newly built business centre near Potsdamer Platz. The city's historic centre – the location of the Reichstag building, as well as the Brandenburg gate and most federal ministries – was largely abandoned when the Berlin Wall cut through the area. Only after the reunification with the redevelopment of Potsdamer Platz, and the construction of numerous shopping centers, government ministries, embassies, office buildings and entertainment venues, was the area revived.

In Frankfurt, there is a business district which is in the geographical centre of the city and it is called the Bankenviertel.

In Düsseldorf, there is a business district which is located around the famous High-Street Königsallee with banks, shops and offices. [4]

Hong Kong

Central has been the political and financial centre of Victoria Hong Kong Central District Night View 201305.jpg
Central has been the political and financial centre of Victoria
Kwun Tong-Kowloon Bay CBD of East Kowloon Kwun Tong Dusk View 201407.jpg
Kwun Tong-Kowloon Bay CBD of East Kowloon
West Kowloon CBD Hong Kong International Commerce Centre (15512862984).jpg
West Kowloon CBD

In Hong Kong, Central, Sheung Wan, Wanchai and Causeway Bay are considered as the central business districts of Victoria City. The Yau Tsim Mong District has generally been considered the city centre of Kowloon before another core emerged in Cheung Sha Wan.

As part of the Airport Core Programme, the Union Square project launched by the MTR Corporation has brought it another CBD in West Kowloon. With the latest implementation of "Energising Kowloon East" Scheme by the Hong Kong Government, Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong Business Area have been gradually redeveloped and transformed into CBDs.

The CBDs of new towns and satellite cities such as Tuen Mun, Sha Tin and Tung Chung have been characterised by sky-scraping residential blocks on top of large shopping centres that provide services to local residents. These mixed use development usually surround the central public transit station of such towns.


The largest CBD in Indonesia is known as the Golden Triangle (Segitiga Emas in Indonesian language) in Jakarta. The area is located along the main avenues of Jakarta, Jalan Jenderal SudirmanJalan M.H. Thamrin -Jalan H.R. Rasuna SaidJalan Prof. Dr. SatrioJalan Jenderal Gatot Subroto. Sudirman Central Business District, a super block that is located within the Golden Triangle, is the first of its kind in Indonesia, and one of the largest commercial center development in the city. Jakarta started developing the sophistication of its Business District in the early 1960s before to host the Asian Games in 1962. [5]

Surabaya in East Java, built its first central business district in the Darmo region. The construction was expected to be completed by 2018 with 150 SOHO units and 500 residences. [6]

Jakarta WV banner.jpg
Jakarta Central Business District.


In Pakistan, a central business district or a large, concentrated urban setting within a settlement is called a shehar. Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and the country's economic hub; the I. I. Chundrigar Road of the city, often called the "Wall Street of Pakistan," acts as Karachi's main financial district and is essentially a center of economic and industrial activity. Shahra-e-Faisal in Karachi is also one of the most important business districts of Pakistan.

Another important business district is Gulberg, Lahore. It has a large number of important office buildings as well as many high-rises and shopping malls. City Towers, [7] Pace Tower, M.M Alam road, Vogue Towers, Park Plaza Hotel, Tricon Tower, [7] MM Tower, [7] Boulevard Heights and Ali Trade Centre are present in this area. Ferozepur Road is also central business district of Lahore. It is served by Lahore bus rapid transit. Kayre International Hotel, and Arfa Software Technology Park are also present on Ferozepur Road.

Jinnah Avenue in Islamabad is the main business district of the city. It is lined with numerous office buildings. Blue Area is also central business districts of Islamabad. Rawalpindi-Islamabad Metrobus Service is under-construction bus rapid transit system in these business districts which will connect them to key areas in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

D Ground is the central business district of Faisalabad and Saddar is the main central business district of Rawalpindi.


San Isidro, CBD in Lima, Peru CBD San Isidro - Lima, Peru.jpg
San Isidro, CBD in Lima, Peru

In Peru the central business district is San Isidro, in Lima, which hosts the majority of Peru's financial industry headquarters. [8] Although still a largely residential district, the commercial and business activity located in or in the vicinity of the area defined by avenues Camino Real, Javier Prado Este, República de Panamá and Aramburú is highly regarded as Peru's financial and corporate heart. [9] [10] It has a permanent population of around 63,000 inhabitants [11] and, during weekday business hours, a floating population that exceeds 700,000 daily commuters from other districts of Lima. [12] San Isidro is served by three stations of El Metropolitano, Lima's bus rapid transit system: Estación Javier Prado, Estación Canaval y Moreyra (with over 16,000 daily passengers) [13] [14] and Estación Aramburú.

Since the late 2000s (decade) the southeastern district of Surco [15] has experienced a significant increase in upscale corporate developments in the area comprised by avenues Manuel Holguín, El Derby, El Polo and La Encalada due to lower restrictions to grant construction licences and proximity to residential middle and upper class districts and is set to become, after traditional San Isidro and Miraflores, the new corporate centre of Lima.


3 major CBDs in the Philippines Economyphilippines.jpg
3 major CBDs in the Philippines

The Philippines has three major Central Business Districts, which are all located in Metro Manila. Bonifacio Global City (top) is the newest and one of the largest central business districts in the Philippines. The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), Ayala Land, Inc. and Evergreen Holdings, Inc. controls Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation, which oversees the master planning of Bonifacio Global City. Ortigas Center (middle), with an area of more than 100 hectares (250 acres), is the Philippines' second most important business district after the Makati CBD and is home to Asian Development Bank. Meanwhile, the Makati Central Business District (bottom), also known as the Makati CBD, is the leading financial and the largest central business district in the Philippines.


The Downtown Core and the Singapore River Planning Area as viewed from the eastern bank of the Singapore River, with the CBD located on its western bank. Raffles Place can be clearly identified by the dense concentration of skyscrapers. 1 Singapore city skyline 2010 day panorama.jpg
The Downtown Core and the Singapore River Planning Area as viewed from the eastern bank of the Singapore River, with the CBD located on its western bank. Raffles Place can be clearly identified by the dense concentration of skyscrapers.

The area commonly called the "CBD" is located within the Downtown Core, one of the constituent planning areas of the Central Area, the country's city-centre. Its densest point is centered around Raffles Place, where most of Singapore's skyscrapers are located. The "CBD" term has also been used at times to refer to the Central Area as a whole.

In the future, the government is planning to redevelop the town centre of Jurong East into a secondary satellite CBD. [16] The area has also been earmarked as the site of the rail terminus for the Kuala Lumpur–Singapore High Speed Rail.

South Africa

Cape Town CBD skyline as seen from a rooftop in De Waterkant. Cape Town CBD skyline as seen from De Waterkant.jpg
Cape Town CBD skyline as seen from a rooftop in De Waterkant.

South Africa's largest cities, namely Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Port Elizabeth, have CBDs which house the headquarters of many of the country's largest companies, as well as convention centres, and the cities' tallest buildings.

Cape Town is known for having South Africa's most iconic skyline (including the famous Table Mountain) and CBD. [17]


AZCA business district in Madrid on the left, with one of the Puerta de Europa towers in the centre and with the CTBA skyscrapers at the back-right of the picture. AZCA.c.m.2.jpg
AZCA business district in Madrid on the left, with one of the Puerta de Europa towers in the centre and with the CTBA skyscrapers at the back-right of the picture.

The biggest central business districts of Spain are located in the country's capital, Madrid. The Paseo de la Castellana holds the city's main business districts: the Gate of Europe, AZCA and CTBA. AZCA is 19-hectare super block near Real Madrid's stadium Santiago Bernabéu. It used to be the country's main business area during the 1980s and 1990s, when most of its skyscrapers were built. The tallest building of AZCA is the Torre Picasso, a 158-tower designed by the World Trade Center's architect, and contains the main offices in Spain of Google and Deloitte. The Gate of Europe consists of two twin towers, which hold Spanish bank Bankia and real state company Realia. Just a few blocks north is the CTBA, a complex of four skyscrapers which are the tallest in Spain. Architects such as Norman Foster, Ieoh Ming Pei and Cesar Pelli have designed its towers, which were completed in 2008. The tallest building, the Torre de Cristal, is the fourth tallest building is Western Europe, with a height of 250 metres. The complex is home to offices from well known companies such as KPMG, Coca-Cola, Volkswagen, Bankia, Cepsa, Pwc, OHL and holds the embassies of the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, as well as a 5-star hotel from Eurostars. A fifth tower is currently being built and will have the campus of the Instituto de Empresa university.

22@ centre in Barcelona Central business district of Barcelona (2).JPG
22@ centre in Barcelona

In Barcelona, the 22@ and Granvia l'Hospitalet are the main business districts. Despite the fact that the Catalan capital does not have a reputation for skyscrapers and financial hubs, in the recent years it has attracted several media and technology companies such as Microsoft and Yahoo!. In 2005, the Torre Agbar, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, became the third tallest building in the city with a height of 145 metres. The building soon became a symbol of Barcelona and was going to become a Hyatt hotel. However, the tower is still empty due to administrative problems. [18]

Cities like Bilbao and Valencia are also considered to have important business districts but at a much smaller scale. Bilbao has completely transformed its city centre in the last 20 years, and now holds several main offices of banks like BBVA and Kutxabank as well as the Iberdrola Tower, a 165-metre skyscraper which belongs to Spanish electric company Iberdrola.


In Taiwan, terms "city centre" (Chinese: 市中心) are often used, but a different commercial district outside of the historic core typically called a "CBD" (中央商務區) or "Financial District" (金融貿易區) or "Yolk area" (蛋黃區) are also frequently used. There are many central business districts located on the island of Taiwan. In Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan (Republic of China), the area around its main railway station or Zhongzheng District is regarded as the historic city centre whilst the Xinyi District(especially Xinyi Special District) or Eastern District of Taipei located to the east of the said railway station is the current CBD of Taipei, being both the modern financial, political and economic district and the premier shopping area, including the location of Taipei 101, Taiwan's tallest building, rising 509.2 metres (1,671 ft).

In the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, the main CBDs are Cianjin District and Lingya District; and in the central Taiwanese metropolitan area of Taichung, the CBD is Xitun District, especially Taichung's 7th Redevelopment Zone, in which most high-rise buildings containing offices are concentrated.

United Kingdom

One of two CBDs in London, Canary Wharf is slightly to the east of London's centre. 2019 London, Canary Wharf 02.jpg
One of two CBDs in London, Canary Wharf is slightly to the east of London's centre.
The City in central London. The city of london 2019.jpg
The City in central London.

The alternative term city centre is used in United Kingdom and Ireland. In British-influenced countries, such as the Commonwealth realms, former British territories, also use many of the same terms, but also have many characteristics of British cities. In the UK, Australia and South Africa, the term is often just shortened to "city", as in "going to the city"; it is often also called "town" ("going (in)to town", "going up town", or "going down town"). One exception is in London where "the City" specifically refers to the City of London (one of the two main financial districts), rather than to any other part of London.

Birmingham city centre's skyline, as seen from Edgbaston Cricket Ground. Birmingham Skyline from Edgbaston Cricket Ground.jpg
Birmingham city centre's skyline, as seen from Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

United States

View of Lower Manhattan in New York City. One World Trade Center is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. Lower Manhattan viewed from Brooklyn.jpg
View of Lower Manhattan in New York City. One World Trade Center is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere.

In the United States, central business districts are often called "downtown" (even if there is no "uptown"). In most cities the downtown area will be home to the financial district, but usually contains entertainment and retail of some kind as well. The downtown areas of many cities, such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Diego, New Orleans, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Houston, are also home to large sports and convention venues. Historic sections of a central business district may be called "old town", while decaying parts of the centre city are commonly called the "inner city". The term inner city is sometimes used evocatively, applying a negative connotation and referring to peripheral areas that suffered economically from white flight.

Some cities in the United States, such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Dallas, Texas, have mixed use districts known as "uptown" in addition to the primary downtown core areas. In some cities, such as Cincinnati, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, "uptown" is instead the historic name for a separate business center or neighbourhood. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware use the term Center City instead of downtown for their central business districts as well as most of the cities and towns in the northwest states. In other cities, like Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Omaha, the city core is simply known as "downtown". Jacksonville, Florida refers to its central business district as the Urban Core, a term which is also sometimes applied to its denser surrounding neighborhoods. In New Orleans, Louisiana, the phrase central business district is used; and while downtown is sometimes used synonymously, traditionally it referred to parts of the city downriver from Canal Street, which did not include the CBD.

See also

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Downtown Core Planning Area in Central Region -----, Singapore

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Downtown Toronto Central Business District of Toronto in Ontario, Canada

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Greater Downtown Miami Neighborhood of Miami in Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States

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