Cities are never blank slates. They have unique histories, identities, and cultures that have combined to form them into their current state and that continue to influence how they will develop in the future. To this end, in 2015 Thriving Cities commissioned field research in three pilot cities. Explore below.


Portland, Oregon

Portland, to use a boxing cliché, punches above its weight. Or so it might seem in view of the way this isolated city of modest size and economic clout appears again and again in “best of” rankings of a seemingly endless variety.


Richmond, Virginia

Located in the heart of Old Dominion, Virginia’s capital city has been central to American, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s, and the South’s heritage and identity since the eighteenth century.


Orlando, Florida

Orlando is an adolescent living in the shadow of The Mouse. Growing fast, simultaneously unsure of herself and cocky, The City Beautiful struggles to embrace a cohesive identity apart from international tourism. Her leadership believes that a widely celebrated local identity would further diversify the economy and help Orlando stay ahead of her explosive population growth.