Via the New York Times and the Globe and Mail: Jane Jacobs, the urban expert and social activist who wrote The Death and Life of Great American Cities, died today (April 25th) at the age of 89, after having suffered what appeared to be a stroke.
Having lived in lived in the Toronto nieghboor of the Annex since 1968, she was involed with a successful fight to stop the Spadina Expressway and has had a deep influence on this city. She was appointed as an officer to the Order of Canada in 1996.
A sample of her always thoughtful and original output :
The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961): Cities rely on access to sidewalks and parks, high-density housing with a mix of incomes, uses and ages of buildings, and hands-off planning.
The Economy of Cities (1969): Urban economies are based on replacement of imports with indigenous products. Cycles of trade and entrepreneurship are vital to urban life.
The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle for Sovereignty (1980): Like Norway’s separation from Sweden, Quebec’s from Canada can be good for both parties if they maintain separate currencies.
Cities and the Wealth of Nations: Principles of Economic Life (1984): National economies are in fact the economies of urban regions, and national economies work best when cities are given maximum autonomy. Backward cities should trade with one another and consider secession.
Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics (1992): Human societies rely on two distinct systems of morality: “commercial” and “guardian.” Both are vital, but troubles arise when the two are combined.
Her insight will be missed. The Toronto star has this to say : Jane Jacobs, 89: Urban legend, as well as T.O. owes debt to Jacobs and Letter of protest Jacobs’ last act. More : CBC has Urban thinker Jane Jacobs dies, and some amazing archival material of Jane Jacobs in 1969 and this recent peice from Ideas, as well as the stuff I’ve been hearing on CBC Radio like As it Happens.
And the wolves are out, aready! The Sunday New York Times, “Week in Review” section has “Out growing Jane Jacobs“, attacking her messy, cluttered, and small scale solutions. Jason Kottle about Cities are a “clash of scales”. (it also has a companion audio slideshow).
The “contrasts in scale” that the NYT article talks about would seem to be contrasts in one (mono culture) use vs multi use and externally imposed vs internally arisen. And I’m not so sure the JJ would dislike what has become of “her” SoHo and Greenwich Village neighboors. Then, and now, they are have vastly more density, life, and variety, than most (any?) suburban or small town place. Anywhere as successful as SoHo is bound to become more expense to live. Although if that goes to far, it value will drop, and it will re-grow elsewhere if possible. And what to make of Mr Ouroussoff’s claim about “Los Angeles, whose beauty stems from the heroic scale of its freeways”? “Cars before People” is alive and well!
also worth a read is The upside of ‘density packing’ (Living closer together helps the environment, shortens commutes, and promotes affordable housing.) (via Kottke’s links) which does not mention Jane Jacob per see, but arrives to the same place.