Orlando has taken on a new “web city” form. Its dispersal over a wide geographical area allows distinct and unique pockets of culture to arise within it, a kind of archipelago of art and design. It is a microcosm of the archipelago of many Florida cities. The overall effect is marvelous, if somewhat diluted by distance, and the broad metropolitan area has come to be a proving ground for artists, architects, and urban designers. As an artist and designer commenting on these topics, the single biggest trend I have seen in the last fifteen or so years is a growing sense of maturation. read more »
Orlando is now a place where suffering may finally catalyze a response to social violence. The spontaneous outpouring of grief and reconciliation by its people shows that public space lives, and has a useful function in our digital age. In multiple places around the city remembrances of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, and of musician and Voice contestant Christina Grimmie who was shot the previous day, are poignant, tangible evidence of the human spirit that one cannot ignore. read more »
As 2015 wanes, many swimming in Florida’s new wave of growth are still being carried by a swift current. Everywhere one gazes, new apartments can be seen that accommodate some of the million-plus new residents who have moved here in the last five years. With over 140,000 people migrating to Florida from other states during 2014, and over 100,000 people moving to Florida from other countries, Florida’s GDP is predicted to have grown 3.2% in 2015, the highest in the country and well ahead of the national average. The tide has definitely come in.
For natives and long-term residents, it feels like everyone up north woke up one Tuesday morning and said, “Hey honey, let’s quit our jobs, move to Florida, and get an apartment overlooking the interstate.” From Tampa to Daytona, mid-rise wood frame structures loom over semi-trucks and cars that whizz by, a new voyeur culture in the making. read more »
The city sidewalk today is pretty empty, with online shopping and social media having replaced shoe leather on pavement. Restrictions in the name of safety have also become more common since 9/11. One result of these trends is a movement called Art in Odd Places : the work of artists that use public space itself as a huge, blank canvas. Orlando is the most recent city to experiment in this fashion. This month, more than fifty artists there reasserted the right to an unfettered exchange of ideas in public space, reinventing the sidewalk. read more »
Preservation seems like an easy idea to support. Who would be against it? History, character, and a sense of place are what great communities are all about. They generate tourism and makes us all culturally richer. Landowners in historic districts even enjoy higher land values than nearby landowners in newer, usually blander developments. What’s not to like?
Apparently, a lot. Cities unilaterally impose ordinances from time to time, regulating building size, shape and use, and rarely are there complaints, although the changes affect everyone in the city. read more »
Rural and small towns suffer from a loss of faith in their place, and seem desperate to be recognized in our new, standardized world. Plenty of our developed land remains specific and even unique, but the highway does not go to it. Outside the cities, unpretty feed stores, the availability of tractor parts, and the presence of cattle hardly contribute to scientifically measured success. The refuge of the individual, the ability of a person to see his or her life as meaningful while it is separate and apart from a larger mass, is crippled. read more »
While the city’s star is rising in popular literature, it has fallen in popular usage. Where have our sidewalks gone—and why is sidewalk activity disappearing? read more »
Florida is on track to break the 20 million population mark by 2016, or possibly even this year. The Sunshine State will displace New York as the third most populous state in the country, just behind California and Texas. Nationally, rural counties absorb a lot of newcomers of modest income or fixed income seeking affordable places to live. Here in Orlando, however, banks and developers are betting big on a newfound taste for the urban lifestyle, beckoning new arrivals with hip-looking apartments and parking garages, often coupled with shopping plazas full of pricey, name-brand retailers. read more »
Artists are bus riders. With day jobs to keep food on the table, they often forego luxuries, using feet and bicycles, as well as buses, instead of cars. They travel alongside many people for whom the bus is an absolute necessity. Too often, the bus is a class marker in America, and a racial marker in the South. Many do not want to cross the threshold of the bus. With artists increasingly passing through this doorway, the Transit Interpretation Project began, first in Orlando, Florida and now in Roanoke, Virginia. read more »
The college town, one of America’s most appealing and unique features, grew out of the Age of Reason, and the concept of a regional, liberal-arts college nurtured by a small town has been intertwined with American history. Today, with enrollment dropping, the small, private college seems to be going the same way as the typewriter, the newspaper and the independent bookstore. While some colleges struggle to survive, the institution of the college town lives in suspended animation, ready to support whatever form its major employer may take. read more »