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The Death and Life of Great American Cities Book Summary : 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.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities Book Summary : Penetrating analysis of the functions and organization of city neighborhoods, the forces of deterioration and regeneration, and the necessary planning innovations
The Death and Life of Great American Cities Book Summary : 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
The Death and Life of Great American Cities Book Summary : 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.
Systems of Survival Book Summary : 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.
The Question of Separatism Book Summary : 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.
Eyes on the Street Book Summary : 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.
Becoming Jane Jacobs Book Summary : 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.
Dark Age Ahead Book Summary : Visionary thinker Jane Jacobs uses her authoritative work on urban life and economies to show us how we can protect and strengthen our culture and communities. In Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs identifies five pillars of our culture that we depend on but which are in serious decline: community and family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation and government; and self-policing by learned professions. The decay of these pillars, Jacobs contends, is behind such ills as environmental crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor; their continued degradation could lead us into a new Dark Age, a period of cultural collapse in which all that keeps a society alive and vibrant is forgotten. But this is a hopeful book as well as a warning. Jacobs draws on her vast frame of reference -- from fifteenth-century Chinese shipbuilding to zoning regulations in Brampton, Ontario -- and in highly readable, invigorating prose offers proposals that could arrest the cycles of decay and turn them into beneficent ones. Wise, worldly, full of real-life examples and accessible concepts, this book is an essential read for perilous times. From the Hardcover edition.
Contemporary Perspectives on Jane Jacobs Book Summary : Jane Jacobs's famous book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) has challenged the discipline of urban planning and led to a paradigm shift. Controversial in the 1960s, most of her ideas became generally accepted within a decade or so after publication, not only in North America but worldwide, as the articles in this volume demonstrate. Based on cross-disciplinary and transnational approaches, this book offers new insights into her complex and often contrarian way of thinking as well as analyses of her impact on urban planning theory and the consequences for planning practice. Now, more than 50 years after the initial publication, in a period of rapid globalisation and deregulated approaches in planning, new challenges arise. The contributions in this book argue that it is not possible simply to follow Jane Jacobs's ideas to the letter, but instead it is necessary to contextualize them, to look for relevant lessons for cities and planners, and critically to re-evaluate why and how some of her ideas might be updated. Bringing together an international team of scholars and writers, this volume develops conclusions based on new research as to how her work can be re-interpreted under different circumstances and utilized in the current debate about the proclaimed ‘millennium of the city’, the 21st century.
Study Guide Book Summary : SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 77-page guide for "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" by Jane Jacobs includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 22 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Role of Community Activism in Urban Planning and Development and Major Urban Movements and their Shortcomings.
Vital Little Plans Book Summary : A new book by influential urbanist Jane Jacobs, released in Jacobs' centenary, and showing her evolution as a writer and thinker. Vital Little Plans will bring together for the first time a selection of essays, articles, speeches and interviews by the late Jane Jacobs. These works shed light on the development of the ideas she made famous in her best-known works, The Death and Life of Great American Cities and The Economy of Cities, while expanding upon familiar themes with new insights. Some works also explore topics rarely directly addressed in her major works, from skyscrapers to feminism to universal health care to gentrification. Readers will find classics like her breakout article "Downtown Is for People" and a host of previously unpublished or obscure articles, speeches, and lectures that follow her entire career, from her early journalistic investigations into the specialty industries of New York City and the neighbourhoods that harboured them, to her critiques of the urban renewal regime, to her iconoclastic takes on economics, separatism, regulation, and the environment. Most importantly, it will reveal Jacobs as she herself wished to be understood: as a writer who tried to observe human life as closely as she could. The book showcases the rhythm of Jacobs' career. "A City Naturalist" collects articles from her early years in New York, where she honed her distinctive style and her interest in the commercial and everyday life of cities. "City Building" critiques contemporary architecture, city planning and urban renewal. In "How New Work Begins," she explores the economic foundations of flourishing city life, and the environmental and political implications of city growth. "The Ecology of Cities" weaves ethics, government regulation and social justice into her system of thought, and gives her integrated approach a name: "the ecology of cities." In "The Unfinished Business of Jane Jacobs," she revisits ideas from throughout her career in the context of current challenges, and turns her gaze to the uncertain future of human life.
The Nature of Economies Book Summary : Jane Jacobs has spent years changing the way we think about economic life in general. Now, in The Nature of Economies, Jacobs proposes a radical notion that has breath-taking common sense: economies are governed by the same rules as nature itself. With the simplicity of an extremely wise and seasoned thinker, Jane Jacobs shows us that by looking to nature, we can develop economies that are both efficient and ecologically friendly. The Nature of Economies is written in dialogue form: five intelligent friends discussing over coffee how economies work. The result is a wonderfully provocative, truly ground-breaking work by one of the great thinkers of our time. From the Trade Paperback edition.