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Southwest Florida Origins

We recently told everyone about our expanded service area…

coverageIn case you missed it, we cover seven counties in Southwest Florida now, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Glades, Lee, Hendry, and Collier Counties.  We’re fans of history around here (that massive gallery of old American flags on Independence Day might have given that away…), but in Florida, history usually means Tampa and Miami.  What about Southwest Florida?  Well, we’ve got you covered.  We’re going to go over some of the more interesting history in our coverage area over several blogs, coming back to the subject every now and then.  To kick things off, lets take a quick look at those seven counties.  Specifically, why are they called what they’re called, and where did they come from?  Those county names reflect a lot of the history around here, so let’s get going!

Charlotte County

Seal_of_Charlotte_County,_FloridaFormed out of part of DeSoto county in 1921, the county was named for the Bay of Charlotte Harbor, which was in turn named for Queen Charlotte Sophia, wife of King George III, in 1775.  The Spanish originally called it “Carlos Bay,” so we almost had a “Carlos County”!

Collier County

Seal_of_Collier_County,_Florida

Carved out of Lee County in 1923, Collier County was named for Baron Collier, a New York real estate developer and businessman who moved to SWFL and built the Tamiami Trail for the state in exchange for having a county named after him!

DeSoto County

DeSoto_County_Fl_SealThis one is fairly self-explanatory.  Created in 1887 out of what was then Manatee County, it was named for Hernando de Soto (1496/1497–1542), Spanish explorer and conquistador.  He famously was the first European to cross the Mississippi River, and likely first landed in Florida on that voyage very near modern day DeSoto County.

Glades County

glades

Formed in 1921 from DeSoto County, the county was named after the nearby Everglades, which were, in turn, were named partly by British surveyor John Gerard de Brahm in 1773, who called the area “River Glades.”

Hendry County

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Formed out of Lee County in 1923, it was named for Francis A. Hendry (1833–1917), a Florida cattle rancher and politician who was an early settler of the area, and an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Lee County

Lee_County_Fl_Seal

Carved out of the original, massive Monroe County in 1887, Lee was named for famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), and has grown to become, by far, the largest county in Southwest Florida.

Sarasota County

393px-Logo_of_Sarasota_County_FL.svg

Founded in 1921 out of Manatee County.  Believe it or not, the word “Sarasota” is of unknown, probably Native American, origin.  The word has been used in the area since nearly the very beginning of European colonization, but there’s no record of where it came from.  A possibility is that it’s a Calusa (the original Native language in the area) word meaning “point of rocks” or “place of the dance.”  Again, there’s no way to know for sure!


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Mapping Aging (Again)

Not too long ago, we poured over some really interesting maps about aging trends in the United States.  Those maps showed county-by-county trends, and essentially brought us to the conclusion that we are slowly aging as a country, especially in Florida, and less-so in the Mountain West.  But how do we stack up against the rest of the world?  The answer says a lot about where we’re going as a country.

Here’s the median age in each state as of 2010.

0YJXFYeJust like before, the trends are obvious.  Older, more developed Northeastern states are more aged, the rugged, relatively unpopulated Mountain West is younger, and New England, Pennsylvania and Florida are the oldest areas in the country.  Let’s parse this down further, and look at a big county-by-county map.

6Oce7na

It’s very interesting to see it this way.  The county maps from last time showed trends into the future, this map shows the age of each county right now.  It’s very unexpected that Maine is the overall oldest state by median age, though!  But less surprising is the presence of the country’s oldest county, Sumter County, in Florida.

Now, let’s look at trends for the entire world, with the under 30 percentage in each country in 2005, and the projection of the same in 2025…

world_age_structure_2005_2025It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see where the shift is occurring there.  The more “developed” countries are getting older, while the less “developed” countries are getting younger as their populations explode.  The reasons are pretty easy to guess: easy access to birth control in the “Developed World” alongside far greater longevity and more comprehensive healthcare services in those countries letting more people live longer.  The areas of the world that are healthiest are understandably becoming the oldest!

Let’s take a look at two specific examples to make this more clear…

1280px-Australian_Census_2011_demographic_map_-_Australia_by_SLA_-_BCP_field_0109_Median_age_of_persons.svg

This is the average age in each Australian Land District.  Australia is a country very similar to the United States, with a colonial heritage derived from the British Empire that started on a vast, untamed continent, with an even more untamed West and interior.  The main differences are that the country is younger, and that the continent in question is a bit more inhospitable than North America was (to put it mildly).  The demographics reflect that, with a pattern similar to the United States’, but more extreme.  The giant Great Victoria and Gibson Deserts have extremely young populations, just like the American Mountain West and Alaska do, as does the relatively unpopulated Northern Territory.  The older, major coastal cities and their sprawls, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne, make a line along the country’s southeast coast that fills the area with an older population, just like the American Northeast Corridor.  Additional splotches of red surround the other large cities, Adelaide and Perth.  You can see the trends developing that in a few more decades will make Australia’s age map will look a lot like ours does now as the continent fills-in with more people,.  So this is where we were around 50 years ago.  Where will we be 50 years from now?

Let’s look to an unlikely place for the future…

Naselja-median_starostiWeren’t expecting that, were you?  Croatia is a prime example of where the US is going in regards to aging, as it’s a very developed European country, but not as extreme an example as countries in Western and Northern Europe, thanks mostly to the relatively recent wars in the region.  As you can see, even the youngest areas bottom out at an average of around 35 years, with huge swaths of the country averaging in the mid-50s in age.  This is where we are going, as our health improves, and our lives get longer, and our birth rate slows.  Essentially, while we still think of ourselves in terms of our cultural and political competitors, like Russia, China and Brazil, we’re actually slowly turning into the United Kingdom and Japan in terms of demographics.  It will be extremely interesting to see how that affects our character as a country moving forward.


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Aging Maps

Viewing information, especially numbers, can be trying.  It’s hard to get a good feel for what, exactly, is happening, when you’re looking at a wall of numbers.  Displaying that info as maps makes it much easier to digest, and can be a great way to get informed about a specific subject.  And what better subject for us, than one that comes close to our hearts: aging in America.  It’s common knowledge which states are the “oldest,” but about what counties are the oldest?  Well…

map_65plusInteresting, isn’t it?  You have the obvious I-4 Corridor, Naples area, Fort Myers area and West Palm Beach areas there, but what’s going on with that wide band of elderly that roughly parallels Tornado Alley?  Or the Port Angeles area of Washington State?  And that one bright red county on the Jersey Shore?

If this is what the distribution of elderly looks like, what about elderly in need of care?

map_aged_disabilities

Wow.  Florida suddenly looks like a spring chicken, while broad swaths of the South, especially Eastern Kentucky, are in intense need of care.  We wouldn’t be surprised if this map overlaps with a map of poverty levels.  Lack of access to proper care frequently has more to do with income than age.

But what about how things are changing going forward?  Are some areas getting older and some younger?  Glad you asked.  These are changes in median ages from the 2010 Census to 2012 Census estimates, on a county-level.

NESENWSWAKHIIn short, most of the country is getting slowly older, while that same elderly corridor in the Midwest from earlier is getting younger!  Let’s take a look at our local two “core” counties.

CollierLeeA gradual uptick in both, but not a strong one.

In short, it’s very interesting to look at maps like these, and get a “big picture” view of aging in America.  And, as anyone can see, issues related to aging and lack of care for the disabled elderly will only become more serious as time goes on, with a universally greying population.