Two (more) books to read, and an interesting thesis
The ends of Constantinople and Venice - this review takes them together, recommends both, then suggests:
Cities are entering a new golden age. Like the great city states of 15th-century Italy, modern cities such as New York and Hong Kong have become dynamos of wealth and creativity, increasingly distinct in tempo and mentality from their surrounding state.
I'd put London in that grouping too. The geographers say that Bangkok is the most extreme "primate" city - drawing in all the wealth and skills from the national hinterland, but London must come close to its rival in that category.
It is an interesting thought that this might be necesssary for a great city - this article suggests Paris and Moscow haven't managed it, so have been dragged down by their hinterland.
I'd really not care to live anywhere in the UK except in London (well except maybe Oxford and Cambridge, but university towns are a special case). The rest really is a different country.