What Makes a City Great?

Charley Williams – Guest Columnist

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

What Makes a City Great?

Charley WilliamsFor the better part of two years – and, really, for many decades prior to that – Winter Park has been engaged in a discussion of how to preserve the character of our city — the character that makes us cherish the privilege of living here. We all want the same thing, but we have difficulty agreeing on how to achieve it.

What Do We Want?

Basically, we want our city to stay beautiful.

How do we do that?

The attached video articulates in a simple, vivid way, six principles of civic beauty. Regardless of which notion you espouse of beauty and how to achieve it, this entertaining, instructive piece offers a framework and a vocabulary with which to conduct the discussion.

Six Principles of Beautiful Cities

1. Variety and Order
2. Visible Life
3. Compact
4. Orientation and Mystery
5. Scale
6. Make it Local

Seventh Principle for Winter Park

7. Create Shade – shade trees, awnings, misters – anything to protect us from that famous Florida sunshine.

I hope you will take the time to enjoy this short video, originally published by The School of Life, located in London’s famed Bloomsbury district. They describe themselves this way. “The School of Life is devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture. We offer a variety of programs and services concerned with how to live wisely and well.”

To learn more, visit http://www.thebookoflife.org

© The Book of Life


Charley Williams has been a Winter Park resident for 14 years. He serves as a Trustee for the Florida First Amendment Foundation and is a past state Board Member, Florida League of Women Voters.

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3 replies
  1. bill segal says:

    Thanks for sharing the terrific video Charley. 2 questions, 1) If the same message was delivered in a Southern Drawl, would anybody take it seriously ? 2) In the 7th Principle, why no equal time for misses , and only for misters?

  2. Beauty and The Beast says:

    That makes a lot of sense. Beauty is more politically feasible when the people who run things are from a culture of beauty. Chicago politicians were Irish. Sydney was a British colony. Venice – well the Venitian people didn’t have access to the internet, cable TV, and such. They were from one culture.

    In Winter Park, our mayor is from New York, the Vice Mayor is from Tennessee, There’s a commissioner from Altamonte Springs, and toss in a couple more commissioners from a couple other states, and what do you have? For good measure throw in architects from every state and country and every school of architecture. That’s 2016 in Winter Park.

    They can’t even agree where the most desirable place for a public library is. Some kids playing Pin the Tail on the Donkey could have come up with a better location than MLK Park. Good luck getting them to agree to anything more than taking a coffee break at about 5:00 pm at their City Commission meetings.

  3. Jerome Donnelly says:

    Re. more shade for Winter Park. As a WP City Commissioner back in the 1970s, I proposed a resolution to adopt a principle of “Continuous Shade.” The resolution called for more tree planting beginning in the immediate center of the city and gradually spreading throughout the city. The City Commission passed the resolution, but the City never fully followed through with enough trees. In some places, as I can observe on my daily walks, there is actually less shade than in the past. Trees are relatively inexpensive and add immeasurably to life in Winter Park.


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