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Best City in the World Fastest Growing Cities London Barcelona Chicago Moscow Mexico City

To be really great, urban theorist Jane Jacobs wrote that a city must have “exuberant diversity.” Listed below are a few cities that fit the bill and then some. Not just diverse, these cities are vibrant, growing and thriving in a shaky economy. Perfect? Maybe not. But at the very least they’re bright spots on the map.

Ballet dancer Erica Lynette Edwards describes Chicago as a pirouette, always turning, always changing, always trying to get better, and still landing gracefully. The Windy City is home of the White Sox, the Bulls and Oprah, and the site of economic growth and opportunity. The estimated growth rate in 2008 was 1.9%, faster than New York or Los Angeles. And there are a whopping 30 Fortune 500 companies in metro Chicago, more than any other U.S. city except New York. It’s smart, too. Twenty-nine percent of downtown Chicago residents have graduate degrees.

Sure, it’s expensive, crowded and the sun never shines. But London has more museums than Paris, more theaters than New York and more libraries, bars and music venues than either. Despite the rain, London still remains one of the most dynamic cities in the world. Maybe it’s the diversity. Thirty-two percent of Londoners were born outside of the U.K. and 150 thousand foreigners immigrate to London every year. Even better, the city is full of new ideas and young faces, 70% of Londoners are under age 45. If it’s business you’re looking for, London is second to none; it’s ranked first among European business capitals for the past 18 years. If that’s not enough to persuade you, don’t forget about the Olympics. The torch will come to London in 2012.

Mexico City
Did you know that Mexico City has more undergrads than the U.S.? The emphasis on education has propelled the once-fledgling city into an aviation center and launched its middle class. Plus, you can’t miss the art fair. Mexico City serves as Latin America’s cultural capital and every year hosts MACO. Que bueno!

At the top of Moscow’s list of superlatives is the world’s highest cost of living. In addition to that fun fact, it has Europe’s tallest skyscraper and is building the world’s biggest building (planned to cover 27 million square feet). With all the fine art and private galleries, you’ll barely notice the corruption. But don’t be blinded by the culture, take some time to look at the toll Communism took on this vibrant city.

Don’t just go to Barcelona for the bull fighting. With all the new business coming to Barcelona, even matadors might find themselves prepping their resume. Don’t just visit Barcelona, start your career there. The city is working hard to attract new businesses, and it’s succeeded with Novartis, Microsoft and HP. Their efforts will likely create more than 150,000 new jobs.