The Death And Life Of Great American Cities
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Thirty years after its publication, The Death and Life of Great American Cities was described by The New York Times as "perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning....[It] can also be seen in a much larger context. It is first of all a work of literature; the descriptions of street life as a kind of ballet and the bitingly satiric account of traditional planning theory can still be read for pleasure even by those who long ago absorbed and appropriated the book's arguments." Jane Jacobs, an editor and writer on architecture in New York City in the early sixties, argued that urban diversity and vitality were being destroyed by powerful architects and city planners. Rigorous, sane, and delightfully epigrammatic, Jacobs's small masterpiece is a blueprint for the humanistic management of cities. It is sensible, knowledgeable, readable, indispensable. The author has written a new foreword for this Modern Library edition.
Penetrating analysis of the functions and organization of city neighborhoods, the forces of deterioration and regeneration, and the necessary planning innovations
In this classic text, Jane Jacobs set out to produce an attack on current city planning and rebuilding and to introduce new principles by which these should be governed. The result is one of the most stimulating books on cities ever written. Throughout the post-war period, planners temperamentally unsympathetic to cities have been let loose on our urban environment. Inspired by the ideals of the Garden City or Le Corbusier's Radiant City, they have dreamt up ambitious projects based on self-contained neighbourhoods, super-blocks, rigid 'scientific' plans and endless acres of grass. Yet they seldom stop to look at what actually works on the ground. The real vitality of cities, argues Jacobs, lies in their diversity, architectural variety, teeming street life and human scale. It is only when we appreciate such fundamental realities that we can hope to create cities that are safe, interesting and economically viable, as well as places that people want to live in. 'Perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning... Jacobs has a powerful sense of narrative, a lively wit, a talent for surprise and the ability to touch the emotions as well as the mind' New York Times Book Review
Despite having no formal training in urban planning, Jane Jacobs deftly explores the strengths and weaknesses of policy arguments put forward by American urban planners in the era after World War II. They believed that the efficient movement of cars was of more value in the development of US cities than the everyday lives of the people living there. By carefully examining their relevance in her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs dismantles these arguments by highlighting their shortsightedness. She evaluates the information to hand and comes to a very different conclusion, that urban planners ruin great cities, because they don’t understand that it is a city’s social interaction that makes it great. Proposals and policies that are drawn from planning theory do not consider the social dynamics of city life. They are in thrall to futuristic fantasies of a modern way of living that bears no relation to reality, or to the desires of real people living in real spaces. Professionals lobby for separation and standardization, splitting commercial, residential, industrial, and cultural spaces. But a truly visionary approach to urban planning should incorporate spaces with mixed uses, together with short, walkable blocks, large concentrations of people, and a mix of new and old buildings. This creates true urban vitality.
With intelligence and clarity of observation, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities addresses the moral values that underpin working life. In Systems of Survival, Jane Jacobs identifies two distinct moral syndromes—one governing commerce, the other, politics—and explores what happens when these two syndromes collide. She looks at business fraud and criminal enterprise, government’s overextended subsidies to agriculture, and transit police who abuse the system the are supposed to enforce, and asks us to consider instances in which snobbery is a virtue and industry a vice. In this work of profound insight and elegance, Jacobs gives us a new way of seeing all our public transactions and encourages us towards the best use of our natural inclinations.
Jane Jacobs, writing from her adoptive country, uses the problems facing an independence-seeking Quebec and Canada as a whole to examine the universal problem of sovereignty and autonomy that nations great and small have struggled with throughout history. Using Norway’s relatively peaceful divorce from Sweden as an example, Jacobs contends that Canada and Canadians—Quebecois and Anglophones alike—can learn important lessons from similar sovereignty questions of the past.
The first major biography of the irrepressible woman who changed the way we view and live in cities, and whose influence can still be felt in any discussion of urban planning to this day. Eyes on the Street is a revelation of the phenomenal woman who raised three children, wrote seven groundbreaking books, saved neighborhoods, stopped expressways, was arrested twice, and engaged at home and on the streets in thousands of debates--all of which she won. Here is the child who challenged her third-grade teacher; the high school poet; the journalist who honed her writing skills at Iron Age, Architectural Forum, Fortune, and other outlets, while amassing the knowledge she would draw upon to write her most famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Here, too, is the activist who helped lead an ultimately successful protest against Robert Moses's proposed expressway through her beloved Greenwich Village; and who, in order to keep her sons out of the Vietnam War, moved to Canada, where she became as well known and admired as she was in the United States. From the Hardcover edition.
Jane Jacobs is universally recognized as one of the key figures in American urbanism. The author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, she uncovered the complex and intertwined physical and social fabric of the city and excoriated the urban renewal policies of the 1950s. As the legend goes, Jacobs, a housewife, single-handedly stood up to Robert Moses, New York City's powerful master builder, and other city planners who sought first to level her Greenwich Village neighborhood and then to drive a highway through it. Jacobs's most effective weapons in these David-versus-Goliath battles, and in writing her book, were her powers of observation and common sense. What is missing from such discussions and other myths about Jacobs, according to Peter L. Laurence, is a critical examination of how she arrived at her ideas about city life. Laurence shows that although Jacobs had only a high school diploma, she was nevertheless immersed in an elite intellectual community of architects and urbanists. Becoming Jane Jacobs is an intellectual biography that chronicles Jacobs's development, influences, and writing career, and provides a new foundation for understanding Death and Life and her subsequent books. Laurence explains how Jacobs's ideas developed over many decades and how she was influenced by members of the traditions she was critiquing, including Architectural Forum editor Douglas Haskell, shopping mall designer Victor Gruen, housing advocate Catherine Bauer, architect Louis Kahn, Philadelphia city planner Edmund Bacon, urban historian Lewis Mumford, and the British writers at The Architectural Review. Rather than discount the power of Jacobs's critique or contributions, Laurence asserts that Death and Life was not the spontaneous epiphany of an amateur activist but the product of a professional writer and experienced architectural critic with deep knowledge about the renewal and dynamics of American cities.