More than just gathering data, we're trying to capture elements that make each community distinctive.
View from Lake Eola downtown. [Photo: iStockphoto]
The region will have to guard against both hubris and choking on its own success, however. Orange County grew by about 30% between 1990 and 2000 and by nearly 20% between 2000 and 2007. The question will be whether it becomes an unmanageable sprawl or grows more according to the high-minded principles articulated during a regional visioning process two years ago. Traffic is awful, and Orange County has the highest crime rate per 100,000 residents in the state. Some of the state’s best urban neighborhoods are matched by tacky subdivisions on the fringe. The concentration of jobs in construction, entertainment and tourism means recessions will continue to hit the area harder than most. The failure to begin working on a light rail system nine years ago still haunts the area, which has also been unsuccessful at consummating a state-CSX deal that would convert freight tracks to commuter rail use.
Relatively free of bad habits that old guard, established cities must overcome, Orlando has a chance of establishing itself as a model for successful, modern cities.