Six centuries ago, when London and Paris were irrelevant, plague-infested backwaters, and New York City wasn’t even on the map, the greatest city in the world was Nanjing– the capital of the Great Ming.
At the time, Nanjing was not only the most populous city on the planet, it was also the pinnacle of civilization. Art, science, technology, and commerce flourished in the Ming Dynasty’s liberalized economy, which constituted a full 31% of global GDP at the time.
(By comparison, the US economy is roughly 25% of global GDP today…)
Taxes were low, the currency was strong, and overseas trade thrived. For a time, Nanjing truly was the center of the world.
Over the next several hundred years, the tide shifted. The Ming Dynasty fell, and power was transferred further west to the Ottoman Empire, and eventually to Europe which had finally emerged from the Dark Ages as the most advanced civilization on Earth.