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Central business district

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Central business district

La Défense, the largest business district in Europe, in Paris, France
Beijing CBD houses more than 70 percent of overseas-funded companies, 90 percent of foreign press offices and the majority of embassies in Beijing, China.[1]

A central business district (CBD) is the commercial and business centre 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. Both the CBD and the city centre or downtown may also coincide with the central activities district.

A city's CBD is usually typified by a concentration of retail and office buildings.[2] The CBD usually has an urban density higher than the surrounding districts of the city, and is often the location of the tallest buildings in the city.

The CBD is often also the "city centre" or "downtown", but this is also often not the case. For example, London's "city centre" is usually regarded as encompassing the historic City of London and the medieval City of Westminster, whereas the City of London and the transformed Docklands area are regarded as its two CBDs. 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 Reforma - Polanco, and the new Santa Fe. In Taipei, Taiwan, the area around its main railway station is regarded as the historic city centre while the Xinyi Planned Area located to the east of the said railway station is the current CBD of Taipei, being both the financial district and the premier shopping area, and the location of Taipei 101, Taipei's tallest building.

The shape and type of a CBD almost always closely reflect the city's history. Cities with maximum building height restrictions often have a separate historic section quite apart from the financial and administrative district. In cities that grew up relatively quickly and more recently, such as those in the western half of North America, a single central area or downtown will often contain all the tallest buildings and act both as the CBD and the commercial and cultural city centre. It has been said that downtowns (as understood in North America) are therefore conceptually distinct from both CBDs and city centres.[3]

CBDs usually have very small resident populations. For example, the population of the City of London declined from over 200,000 in the year 1700 to less than 10,000 today. In some instances, however (and particularly in large Australian and Canadian cities), CBD populations are increasing as younger professional and business workers move into city centre apartments (gentrification).


  • Australia 1
  • Argentina 2
  • Bangladesh 3
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 4
  • Brazil 5
  • Canada 6
  • Chile 7
  • China and Hong Kong S.A.R. 8
  • France 9
  • Germany 10
  • Hungary 11
  • India 12
  • Indonesia 13
  • Iran 14
  • Israel 15
  • Italy 16
  • Mexico 17
  • Panama 18
  • Pakistan 19
  • Peru 20
  • Poland 21
  • Russia 22
  • South Africa 23
  • South Korea 24
  • Spain 25
  • United Kingdom and the Commonwealth 26
  • United States 27
  • Land value variations in a CBD 28
  • Secondary central business district 29
  • See also 30
  • References 31
  • External links 32


Sydney central business district

The term is used to refer to the business and financial area of a state capital city such as the Sydney CBD, Melbourne CBD, Brisbane CBD, Perth CBD and Adelaide CBD.

Historically, as in most Australian cities the CBD coincides with the city's historical and cultural centre, "CBD" was the preferred term for the city centre, to some extent used interchangeably with the term "City" or "city centre" when referring to such central areas. More recently, in many cities the "city centre", which may or may not be distinct from the CBD, is increasingly separately identified. Whereas "CBD" remains the preferred term for the Sydney and Brisbane city centres, for example, in Melbourne and Adelaide "city centre" is preferred.


The Buenos Aires central business district (CBD and also referred to as the City Porteña), is the main commercial centre of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The actual area was the point of first European settlement. Its north-south axis runs from Monserrat in the south to Retiro railway station in the north. Its east-west axis runs from Buenos Aires Ecological Reserve and Puerto Madero.

The district is the financial, commercial, and cultural hub of Argentina. Its port is one of the busiest in South America; navigable rivers by way of the Río de la Plata connect the port to north-east Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. As a result it serves as the distribution hub for a vast area of the south-eastern region of the South American continent. Tax collection related to the port has caused many political problems in the past. Measured in GDP, the economy of Buenos Aires was the 13th largest economy among the world's cities in 2005 at US$245 billion in purchasing power parity, which, based on the population of that year, translates into US$19,500 per capita. The Buenos Aires Human Development Index (0.923 in 1998) is likewise high by international standards.

The city's services sector is diversified and well-developed by international standards and accounts for 78% of its economy (compared to 58% for all of Argentina's); advertising, in particular, plays a prominent role in the export of services at home and abroad. Manufacturing is, nevertheless, still prominent in the city's economy (17%) and, concentrated mainly in the southside, it benefits as much from high local purchasing power and a large local supply of skilled labor as it does from its relationship to massive agriculture and industry just outside the city limits themselves.


Dhaka is Bangladesh's largest city and the country's economic hub; the Motijheel division of the city, acts as Dhaka's main financial district and is essentially a center of economic and industrial activity. Its airport is one of the busiest in South Asia.

Agrabad is the central business district as well as the financial, commercial, and cultural hub of Chittagong.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo Central Business District is the biggest financial center in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is situated in the municipalities Centar and Novo Sarajevo and generates more than 15% of the GDP of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Paulista Avenue, in São Paulo. The main CBD of Brazil.

The CBD includes:

  • Commercial corporations (such as Sarajevo Stock Exchange, BH Telecom, Sparkasse BiH, Raiffeisen Bank BiH, Avaz Rotor Press, Uniqa Insurance, Energoinvest, Energopetrol, B&H Airlines, Petrol BH, Oki and Sarajevo stan)
  • Embassies (USA, Turkey, Malaysia, etc.)
  • Educational institutions (University in Sarajevo with more than 50,000 students; high schools)
  • Shopping malls (Sarajevo City Center, Alta Shopping Center, Imporatnne Center, etc.)
  • The main transport hub of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the largest in whole of the Balkans, Sarajevo Transportation Center, with;
    • Central railway station
    • Main bus station
    • Terminus of tram lines 1 and 4
    • Main postal centre

The Central Business District (CBD) makes Sarajevo one of the most important cities in the Balkan region and Europe.


The Sao Paulo central business district is the Avenida Paulista. However, there are other central outside the geographical core, as the districts of Santo Amaro and Itaim Bibi, more precisely the regions of Juscelino Kubitschek, Luís Carlos Berrini and Faria Lima avenues, in southwest-central city, which are characterised by intense vertical, and the presence of luxury hotels and multinational companies.

The biggest financial centre in Brazil and one of the biggest business centres in the world, São Paulo's economy is going through a deep transformation. Once a city with a strong industrial character, São Paulo's economy has become increasingly based on the tertiary sector, focusing on services and businesses for the country. Although being the most important financial centre of the country, São Paulo also presents a high degree of informality in its economy.

Rio de Janeiro downtown is city's business community, and the second largest in South America. Some of the largest companies in Brazil still have their head offices here, including Petrobras, Eletrobras and Vale (formerly Companhia Vale do Rio Doce), three of the largest Brazilian corporations.


The central business district of Toronto, called Downtown

In Canada, "central business district" is not used as official term by any city or the national statistical agency, StatsCan. Instead the terms "city centre" or "downtown" are used, more or less synonymously. The country's largest city, Toronto, officially regards as many as four business districts as being central. In French-speaking Canada, the usual term is centre-ville, however there is variation from city to city: Montreal's historic core, Old Montreal, is no longer the financial district, which is now Downtown Montreal. In Ottawa, the term "central business district" is often used to describe the 31 city blocks containing the office district, while the term "downtown" includes both the office district and the historic core of the city, known as the Byward Market.


Santiago has a financial district that concentrates on a specific part of the city nicknamed Sanhattan. This area is located on the edge of the communes of Providencia, Vitacura and Las Condes, East of the capital of Chile, that are home to modern office buildings in which permanent commercial activity takes place. The financial sector of Santiago Chile settled in this area mainly during the 1990s, relegating the Centre of the city of this function. It is demarcated by Apoquindo Avenue and Barrio El Golf. Imposing buildings that make up a very elegant architectural unity can be seen along this part of the city. The majority of them began to rise when some of the most prestigious companies that were located in the centre of the metropolis decided to move to the East, at the beginning of the 1980s.

China and Hong Kong S.A.R.

Lujiazui (Lokatse) Skyline, a major international financial and commercial center in Shanghai, China.
Central, Admiralty and Wanchai districts forming a foundation for major multinational financial services corporations and international consulates in Hong Kong S.A.R., China.

In China, the traditional term for a city's central districts was "city centre" or "urban core" (Chinese: 市中心; pinyin: Shì zhōngxīn). Since the 1990s, many cities have developed a distinct CBD or financial district (Chinese: 金融中心; pinyin: Jīnróng zhōngxīn), which either occupies one part of the larger city centre, or is a separate, new development. The English initialism "CBD" is also used as-is in some cities, such as in the Beijing central business district.

China's largest CBDs can be found in mega-cities with populations of over 10 million or large metropolises including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

In some cities, for example Beijing and Shanghai, the newer business districts are either built around or opposite of historical city centers largely to preserve its visual and aesthetic setting. The best example of this is how the majority of Beijing's skyscrapers are located in the Beijing central business district, located in Chaoyang District (simplified Chinese: 朝阳区; traditional Chinese: 朝陽區; pinyin: Cháoyáng Qū) which is to the east and outside of the old enclosed city districts of Dong Cheng (东城区) and Xi Cheng (西城区).

While Shanghai does not have a CBD which is as clearly defined as in Beijing, the majority of all skyscrapers and supertall buildings are located in the Lujiazui or Lokatse area (a national-level development zone) in the Pudong district to maintain the visual setting of the traditional city centre, across the Huangpu River from Pudong, that remains the cultural and entertainment centre of Shanghai despite efforts to promote Pudong. Lujiazui contains the skyscrapers that make up the well-known Lujiazui skyline, and is home to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. However, the Bund, which is across the river from Lujiazui and the traditional CBD of Shanghai within the traditional city centre, remains an important part of the city's business district. A rich collection of historic and Art Deco style buildings from its heyday can be found on The Bund including the Asia Building, Union Building, Shanghai Club, China Merchants Bank Building and the HSBC Building. Other areas of the traditional city centre can also be regarded as CBDs of Shanghai.


In France, the most common term for a city's center is centre-ville. In many of the largest cities however, centre-ville refers to an historic district rather than a business district. In Paris, the main business district is in La Défense, distant from the geographical center of the city, on the western edge of the boundaries of the Paris commune (municipality). Other CBDs include La Part-Dieu in Lyon (2nd largest), Euralille in Lille (3rd), Euroméditerranée in Marseille (4th) and Euronantes in Nantes.


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, 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 construction of numerous shopping centres, 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 is called the Bankenviertel.


Central business district of Budapest, Hungary across the Danube

Budapest downtown is the major central business district (CBD) of Budapest's metropolitan area, and a major financial centre in Hungary and the Central and Eastern Europe region. In Hungary, central business district are often referred to as downtown. In most cities (especially in Budapest) the downtown area will be home to the financial district, and to the most concentrated business activities, but usually contains entertainment and retail of some kind as well. The downtown area of Budapest are also home to large sports and convention venues.


CBD, Bangalore

In India, the term Central Block District is used to describe commercially vibrant pockets like M G Road area in Bangalore and CBD Belapur in Navi Mumbai.


Central business district is more popularly known by its abbreviation CBD. The largest CBD in Indonesia is the Segitiga Emas (Indonesian "golden triangle") in Jakarta. The area is located along the Sudirman - M.H. Thamrin Roads and H.R. Rasuna Said - Gatot Subroto Roads.


Tehran is Iran's largest city and the country's economic hub; the Sadeghiyeh district of the city acts as Tehran's main financial district and is essentially a center of economic and industrial activity. Gheytarieh in Tehran is also one of the most important business districts of Tehran. Another important business district is Navvab (district). It has a large number of important office buildings as well as many high-rises and shopping malls. Abbas Abad (Tehran) and Elahieh are also business districts of Tehran. These districts are served by Tehran metro and monorail.


The main business center of Israel is on 20 Road between the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv area next to the Israeli Diamonds international center in Ramat Gan. This area serves as the center of Israel's international business and the main Central business district of Israel.


Porta Nuova, business district in Milan, Italy

In Italy the business districts do not coincide with the geographical centers of cities, because the centro città is the historical part of them, usually ill suited to function as a modern directional district. A sort of precursor of modern business districts is EUR, in Rome, today headquarters of many national and international companies and public bodies.

A panoramic view of the EUR business district in Rome, Italy

EUR, the Centro Direzionale in Naples and the homonimos one in Milan are the most important business areas of the country. Other important CBDs in Italy are in Genoa and Brescia.

Centro Direzionale in Naples, Italy


Santa Fe, CBD in Mexico City, Mexico

In Mexico there are the two biggest CBD's at Latin America, and one of the most important in the world, City Santa Fe and Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, which are located in Mexico City. Other CBD's in Mexico are Valle Oriente at Monterrey, Nuevo León, and Puerta de Hierro, in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, in the state of Jalisco.


Currently, the village of San Francisco is part of the financial and commercial center of the city of Panama. It is one of the areas where the housing boom has focused in recent years on the city. Certain sectors, such as Punta Paitilla and Punta Pacifica, are part of the most exclusive residential areas of the country and exhibit a high density of skyscrapers. With an economy based largely on the area of services economy in this district many banks, hotels, restaurants and some of the most complete and modern shopping centers in the country, as Multicenter and Multiplaza Pacific is located.


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 Ibrahim Ismail 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. Shara-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,[4] Pace Tower, M.M Alam road, Vogue Towers, Park Plaza Hotel, Tricon Tower,[4] MM Tower,[4] Boulevard Heights and Ali Trade Center 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, Arfa Software Technology Park and the Mubarak Center 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

In Peru the central business district is San Isidro, in Lima, which hosts the majority of Peru's financial industry headquarters.[5] 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.[6][7] It has a permanent population of around 63,000 inhabitants[8] and, during weekday business hours, a floating population that exceeds 700,000 daily commuters from other districts of Lima.[9] 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)[10][11] and Estación Aramburú.

Since the late 2000s (decade) the southeastern district of Surco[12] 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 center of Lima.[13]


In Poland, the terms Śródmieście may be used to describe the central business district. In many of the largest Polish cities, however, śródmieście refers to an historic district rather than a business district, or it may not be used at all.


Moscow International Business Center, June 2014

Most noticeable CBD is located in Moscow. It is called Moscow International Business Center and nicknamed Moskva-City. Unlike other CBDs, MIBC is being created as a single project, run by one designated company, and combines business activity, living space, retail trade, and entertainment in one single development.

South Africa

South African cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg have three CBDs while cities like Durban and Port Elizabeth have only one. Cape Town is known for having South Africa's most iconic skyline (including the famous Table Mountain) and CBD.[14]

South Korea

South Korea has 7 major cities. In Seoul, the capital city of South Korea and the biggest city in Korea, the main CBD is Junggu. Secondary CBDs are Gangnam, Yongsan and Yeoeuido.


AZCA, a portion of the Paseo de la Castellana business district in Madrid, Spain

The biggest central business areas of Spain are the Paseo de la Castellana with its Gate of Europe, AZCA and CTBA in Madrid, 22@ and Granvia l'Hospitalet in Barcelona, and the business centre in Valencia.

United Kingdom and the Commonwealth

The alternative term city centre is used in United Kingdom and Ireland. In British-influenced countries, such as the Commonwealth realms, former British territories (Hong Kong most noticeably (Chinese: 市中心)), also use many of the same terms, but also have many characteristics of British cities. In the UK, Ireland, Australia and South Africa, the term is often just shortened to "city", as in "going to the city"; it is often also referred to as "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 financial district (one of two CBD), rather than to any other part of London.

City of London's skyline

United States

Midtown Manhattan, New York City, is the largest central business district in the United States.[15]
The central business district of Chicago, called The Loop

In the United States, central business districts are often referred to as "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 San Diego, Chicago, 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 referred to as "old town", while decaying parts of the centre city are commonly referred to as the "inner city". The term inner city is sometimes not used literally but rather evocatively, applying a negative connotation and referring paradoxically to peripheral areas blighted during a mass exodus of middle class residents.

Some cities in the United States, such as Minneapolis, and Dallas, 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, "uptown" is instead the historic name for a separate business centre or neighbourhood. Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware use the term center city instead of downtown for their central business districts. In other cities, like Los Angeles and Indianapolis, the city core is simply known as "downtown". In New Orleans, 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 would not include the CBD. One exception is the population in Seattle, local residents refer to the center of the city as the CBD. In Miami, "Downtown Miami" refers to the neighborhoods (such as Brickell and Omni) within the downtown area, not just the central business district. Jacksonville is similar to Miami in that it has multiple sub-districts (such as LaVilla, Brooklyn, Southbank, and Northbank) within the greater "Downtown Jacksonville" area, with the Northbank district serving as the traditional city core.

By broad definition, New York City's CBD comprises the entirety of Manhattan below 59th Street. Narrow definitions include only a square mile or two (3–5 km²) of Midtown as central, with the lowest tenth of the island, including the Financial District, being a secondary business district rather than the central one. Similar narrow and broad definitions are applied to the Chicago's downtown high rise districts.

The Ibrahim Ismail Chundrigar Road, located in the heart of Karachi.

Land value variations in a CBD

Land users, whether they be retail; office; or residential, all compete for the most accessible land within the CBD. The amount they are willing to pay is called bid rent. This can generally be shown in a ‘bid rent curve’. Based upon the reasoning that the more accessible the land, generally in the centre, is the more expensive land.

This is called the bid rent theory.

Commerce (especially large department stores/chain stores) is willing to pay the greatest rent to be located in the inner core. The inner core is very valuable for them because it is traditionally the most accessible location for a large population. This large population is essential for department stores, which require a considerable turnover. As a result, they are willing and able to pay a very high land rent value. They maximise the potential of their site by building many stories.

As one moves from the inner core, the amount commerce is willing to pay declines rapidly. Industry, however, is willing to pay to be in the outer core. There is more land available for their factories, but they still have many of the benefits of the inner core, such as a market place and good communications.

As one moves farther out, so the land is less attractive to industry due to the reducing communication links and a decreasing market place. Because the householder does not rely heavily on these and can now afford the reduced costs (when compared with the inner and outer core) is able to purchase land.

The farther one goes from the inner core and outer core, the cheaper the land. That is why inner city areas are very densely populated (terraces, flats and highrises), whilst the suburbs and rural areas are sparsely populated (semi and detached houses with gardens).

Secondary central business district

Some cities have a primary and a secondary central business district. Examples of a secondary CBD include Lower Manhattan in New York City, where Wall Street is situated; the Canary Wharf financial district in London, which functions as the secondary financial heart of the city; as well as Akasaka, Ikebukuro, Roppongi, Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Shiodome in Tokyo, Minato, Suminoe and Osaka Business Park in Osaka City, Rinku Town in Osaka Prefecture, and Bandra CBD, Mumbai. Another example is North York Centre and Scarborough City Centre in Toronto.

See also


  1. ^ Voigts, Allison. "Beijing: Sky’s The Limit". Global Traveler USA. Retrieved 21 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Central Business District (from website)
  3. ^ "Reviving American downtowns". The Economist. 1 March 2007.
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ General information of San Isidro (in Spanish) retrieved from San Isidro's Municipality official website on 2011-09-04
  6. ^ San Isidro - Peru retrieved from on 2011-09-04
  7. ^ History of San Isidro, Lima, Peru retrieved from on 2011-09-04
  8. ^ San Isidro - Population - Municipality of San Isidro website (in Spanish) retrieved from San Isidro's Municipality official website on 2011-09-04
  9. ^ Mayor of San Isidro proposes alternatives to mitigate San Isidro's challenges (in Spanish) retrieved from on 2011-09-04
  10. ^ Metropolitano's Canaval y Moreyra station will have a new access for passengers (in Spanish) retrieved from El on 2011-08-22
  11. ^ Canaval y Moreyra station will have a new access for passengers (in Spanish) retrieved from on 2011-08-23
  12. ^ Municipality of Santiago de Surco - official website (in Spanish) retrieved on 2011-09-16
  13. ^ Surco, the new corporate center in Lima(in Spanish) retrieved from on 2011-09-04
  14. ^ "New 7 Wonders" of the World website". 6 October 2010. 
  15. ^ "Marketbeat United States CBD Office Report 2Q11". Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 

External links

  • Skyscrapercity - Architecture forum
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