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Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs

Overview
Jane Jacobs, was an American-Canadian writer and activist with primary interest in communities and urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 and decay
Urban decay
Urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude...

. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century...

(1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal
Urban renewal
Urban renewal is a program of land redevelopment in areas of moderate to high density urban land use. Renewal has had both successes and failures. Its modern incarnation began in the late 19th century in developed nations and experienced an intense phase in the late 1940s – under the rubric of...

 policies of the 1950s in the United States. The book has been credited with reaching beyond planning issues to influence the spirit of the times.

Along with her well-known printed works, Jacobs is equally well known for organizing grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

 efforts to block urban-renewal projects that would have destroyed local neighborhoods.
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Quotations

Great cities are not like towns, only larger. They are not like suburbs, only denser. They differ from towns and suburbs in basic ways, and one of them is that cities are, by definition, full of strangers.

The Death And Life of Great American Cities, 30

A region is an area safely larger than the last one to whose problems we found no solution.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 410. Category:Activists|Jacobs, Jane

To science, not even the bark of a tree or a drop of pond water is dull or a handful of dirt banal. They all arouse awe and wonder.

Dark Age Ahead, 65.
Encyclopedia
Jane Jacobs, was an American-Canadian writer and activist with primary interest in communities and urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

 and decay
Urban decay
Urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude...

. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century...

(1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal
Urban renewal
Urban renewal is a program of land redevelopment in areas of moderate to high density urban land use. Renewal has had both successes and failures. Its modern incarnation began in the late 19th century in developed nations and experienced an intense phase in the late 1940s – under the rubric of...

 policies of the 1950s in the United States. The book has been credited with reaching beyond planning issues to influence the spirit of the times.

Along with her well-known printed works, Jacobs is equally well known for organizing grassroots
Grassroots
A grassroots movement is one driven by the politics of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it are natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures...

 efforts to block urban-renewal projects that would have destroyed local neighborhoods. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway
Lower Manhattan Expressway
The Lower Manhattan Expressway was a controversial plan for an expressway through lower Manhattan originally conceived by Robert Moses in 1941, but delayed until the early 1960s...

, and after moving to Canada in 1968, equally influential in canceling the Spadina Expressway
Spadina Expressway
The Spadina Expressway was a proposed north-south freeway in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was only partially built before being cancelled in 1971 due to public opposition. It was proposed in the mid-1960s as part of a network of freeways for Metropolitan Toronto. Its cancellation prompted the...

 and the associated network of highways under construction.

American years


Jane Butzner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Scranton is a city in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania, United States. It is the county seat of Lackawanna County and the largest principal city in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre metropolitan area. Scranton had a population of 76,089 in 2010, according to the U.S...

, the daughter of a doctor and a former teacher and nurse, who were Protestant in a heavily Roman Catholic town. After graduating from Scranton's Central High School, she took an unpaid position as the assistant to the women's page editor at the Scranton Tribune. A year later, in the middle of the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, she left Scranton for New York City.

During her first several years in the city, Jacobs held a variety of jobs, working mainly as a stenographer and freelance writer, often writing about working districts in the city. These experiences, she later said, "… gave me more of a notion of what was going on in the city and what business was like, what work was like." Her first job was for a trade magazine, first as a secretary, then as an editor. She also sold articles to the Sunday Herald Tribune. She then became a feature writer for the Office of War Information. While working there she met an architect named Robert Hyde Jacobs whom she married in 1944. Together they had two sons, James and Ned, and a daughter, Burgin.

She studied at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

's extension school (now the School of General Studies
Columbia University School of General Studies
The School of General Studies, commonly known as General Studies or simply GS, is one of the three official undergraduate colleges at Columbia University. It is a highly selective Ivy League undergraduate liberal arts college designed for non-traditional students and confers Bachelor of Art and...

) for two years, taking courses in geology, zoology
Zoology
Zoology |zoölogy]]), is the branch of biology that relates to the animal kingdom, including the structure, embryology, evolution, classification, habits, and distribution of all animals, both living and extinct...

, law, political science
Political science
Political Science is a social science discipline concerned with the study of the state, government and politics. Aristotle defined it as the study of the state. It deals extensively with the theory and practice of politics, and the analysis of political systems and political behavior...

, and economics. About the freedom to study her wide-ranging interests, she said:

On March 25, 1952, Jacobs responded to Conrad E. Snow, chairman of the Loyalty Security Board at the United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

. In her foreword to her answer she said:

Opposing expressways
Controlled-access highway
A controlled-access highway is a highway designed exclusively for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow and ingress/egress regulated...

 and supporting neighborhoods were common themes in her life. In 1962, she was the chairperson of the "Joint Committee to Stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway
Lower Manhattan Expressway
The Lower Manhattan Expressway was a controversial plan for an expressway through lower Manhattan originally conceived by Robert Moses in 1941, but delayed until the early 1960s...

", when the downtown expressway plan was killed. She was again involved in stopping the Lower Manhattan Expressway and was arrested during a demonstration on April 10, 1968. Jacobs opposed Robert Moses
Robert Moses
Robert Moses was the "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, New York. As the shaper of a modern city, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of...

, who had already forced through the Cross-Bronx Expressway
Cross-Bronx Expressway
The Cross Bronx Expressway is a major expressway in the New York City borough of the Bronx, conceived by Robert Moses and built between 1948 and 1972. It carries traffic on Interstate 95 through the city, and serves as a portion of Interstate 295 toward Long Island; a portion is also designated U.S...

 and other roadways against neighborhood opposition. A late 1990s Public Broadcasting Service
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 (PBS) documentary series on New York’s history devoted a full hour of its fourteen-hours to the battle between Moses and Jacobs, although Robert Caro
Robert Caro
Robert Allan Caro is an American journalist and author known for his celebrated biographies of United States political figures Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson...

's highly critical biography of Moses, The Power Broker
The Power Broker
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York is a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1974 biography of Robert Moses, "New York City's Master Builder", by Robert Caro...

, gives only passing mention to this event, despite Jacobs's strong influence on Caro.

Canadian life


In 1968, Jacobs moved to Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, where she lived until her death. She decided to leave the United States in part because of her objection to the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and worry about the fate of her two draft
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

-age sons. She and her husband chose Toronto because it was pleasant and offered employment opportunities.

She quickly became a leading figure in her new city and helped stop the proposed Spadina Expressway
Spadina Expressway
The Spadina Expressway was a proposed north-south freeway in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was only partially built before being cancelled in 1971 due to public opposition. It was proposed in the mid-1960s as part of a network of freeways for Metropolitan Toronto. Its cancellation prompted the...

. A frequent theme of her work was to ask whether we are building cities for people or for cars. She was arrested twice during demonstrations. She also had considerable influence on the regeneration of the St. Lawrence
St. Lawrence, Toronto
St. Lawrence is a neighbourhood located in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The area, a former industrial area, is bounded by Yonge, Front, and Parliament Streets, and the Canadian National railway embankment. The Esplanade off Yonge St., lined with restaurants, cafés and hotels runs through the...

 neighborhood, a housing project regarded as a major success. She became a Canadian citizen in 1974, and she later told writer James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is an American author, social critic, public speaker, and blogger. He is best known for his books The Geography of Nowhere , a history of American suburbia and urban development, and the more recent The Long Emergency , where he argues that declining oil production is likely...

 that dual citizenship was not possible at the time, implying that her US citizenship was lost.

In 1980, she offered an urbanistic perspective on Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

's sovereignty in her book The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Separation. Jacobs was an advocate of a Province of Toronto to separate the city proper from Ontario. Jacobs said, "Cities, to thrive in the 21st century, must separate themselves politically from their surrounding areas."

She was selected to be an officer of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 in 1996 for her seminal writings and thought-provoking commentaries on urban development. The Community and Urban Sociology section of the American Sociological Association awarded her its Outstanding Lifetime Contribution award in 2002. In 1997, the City of Toronto sponsored a conference titled "Jane Jacobs: Ideas That Matter", which led to a book by the same name. At the end of the conference, the Jane Jacobs Prize was created. It includes an annual stipend of $5,000 for three years to be given to "celebrate Toronto's original, unsung heroes — by seeking out citizens who are engaged in activities that contribute to the city’s vitality".

Jacobs never shied away from expressing her political support for specific candidates. She opposed the 1997 amalgamation of the cities of Metro Toronto, fearing that individual neighborhoods would have less power with the new structure. She backed an ecologist, Tooker Gomberg
Tooker Gomberg
Tooker Gomberg was a Canadian politician and environmental activist.A native of Montreal, Quebec and a liberal-arts graduate of Hampshire College , Gomberg founded one of Canada's first curbside recycling programs in Montreal, and later moved to Edmonton, Alberta, where he created educational...

, who lost Toronto's 2000 mayoralty race, and was an adviser to David Miller's
David Miller (Canadian politician)
David Raymond Miller is a Canadian politician. He was the 63rd Mayor of Toronto and the second since the 1998 amalgamation. He was elected to the position in 2003 for a three-year term and re-elected in 2006 for a four-year term...

 successful mayoral campaign in 2003, at a time when he was seen as a longshot. During the mayoral campaign, Jacobs helped lobby against the construction of a bridge to join the city's waterfront to Toronto City Center Airport (TCCA). Following the election, Toronto City Council’s earlier decision to approve the bridge was reversed and bridge construction project was stopped. TCCA did upgrade the ferry service and the airport is still in operation as of 2011.

Jacobs was also active in a fight against a plan of Royal St. George's College
Royal St. George's College
Royal St. George's College is an independent school for boys located in The Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The school admits boys from Grades 3 through 12. Founded in 1961 as an Anglican choir school in the tradition of the great collegiate and cathedral choir schools in England,...

 (an established school very close to Jacobs' long-time residence in Toronto’s Annex district) to reconfigure its facilities. Jacobs suggested not only that the redesign be stopped but also the school be forced from the neighborhood entirely. Although Toronto council initially rejected the school’s plans, the decision was later reversed — and the project was given the go-ahead by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) when opponents failed to produce credible witnesses and tried to withdraw from the case during the hearing.

She died in Toronto Western Hospital
Toronto Western Hospital
-External links:****...

 aged 89, on April 25, 2006, apparently of a stroke. She was survived by a brother, James Butzner; her two sons, James and Ned, and a daughter, Burgin Jacobs; by two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Upon her death her family's statement noted:

Legacy


It is evident through her interview with Bill Steigerwald in June 2001, that despite the virtuosity, public and intellectual awareness and influence of Jane Jacobs' first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century...

, she herself believes that her later works are historically more important and earthshaking.

In spite of this, her work in regards to planning should not be disregarded. In the world of planning, Jane Jacobs' observations about the ways in which cities function, revolutionized the urban planning profession and discredited many accepted planning models that dominated mid-century planning.

Through her life, she fought to alter the way in which city development was approached. By arguing that cities were living beings and ecosystems, she advocated ideas such as "mixed use" development and bottom-up planning. Furthermore, her harsh criticisms of "slum clearing" and "high-rise housing" projects were instrumental in discrediting these once universally supported planning practices.

Jane Jacobs will be remembered as being an advocate for the mindful development of cities and has left "a legacy of empowerment for citizens to trust their common sense and become advocates for their place".

Despite the fact that Jane Jacobs mainly focused on New York, her arguments have been identified as universal. For instance, her opposition against the demolition of urban neighbourhoods for projects of urban renewal had "special resonance" in Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Australia. In Melbourne in the 1960s, resident associations fought against large-scale high-rise housing projects of the Housing Commission of Victoria
Housing Commission of Victoria
The Housing Commission of Victoria was a State Government body responsible for public housing in Victoria, Australia...

, which they argued had little regard for the impact on local communities.

Throughout her life, Jane Jacobs fought an uphill battle against dominant trends of planning. Despite the United States remaining very much a suburban nation, the work of Jacobs has contributed to city living being rehabilitated and revitalized. Because of her ideas, today, many distressed urban neighbourhoods are more likely to be gentrified
Gentrification
Gentrification and urban gentrification refer to the changes that result when wealthier people acquire or rent property in low income and working class communities. Urban gentrification is associated with movement. Consequent to gentrification, the average income increases and average family size...

 than cleared for redevelopment.

As a tribute to Jacobs, the Rockefeller Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a prominent philanthropic organization and private foundation based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The preeminent institution established by the six-generation Rockefeller family, it was founded by John D. Rockefeller , along with his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr...

 announced on February 9, 2007, the creation of the Jane Jacobs Medal, "to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to thinking about urban design
Urban design
Urban design concerns the arrangement, appearance and functionality of towns and cities, and in particular the shaping and uses of urban public space. It has traditionally been regarded as a disciplinary subset of urban planning, landscape architecture, or architecture and in more recent times has...

, specifically in New York City". From the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s, the foundation's Humanities Division sponsored an "Urban Design Studies" research program, of which Jacobs was the best known grantee. In September 2007, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded Barry Benepe, co-founder of NYC's Green Market program and a founding member of Transportation Alternatives, with the inaugural Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership and a $100,000 cash prize. The inaugural Jane Jacobs Medal for new Ideas and Activism was awarded to Omar Freilla, the founder of Green Worker Cooperatives
Green Worker Cooperatives
Green Worker Cooperatives is a non-profit organization that incubates environmentally sustainable worker cooperatives in the South Bronx of New York City. The organization, founded in 2003 by Omar Freilla, seeks to create green-collar jobs and promotes environmental justice through the creation of...

 in the South Bronx; Mr. Freilla donated his $100,000 to his organization.

In May 2008, the Rockefeller Foundation announced that Peggy Shepard, executive director of West Harlem Environmental Action, would receive the 2008 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership and Alexie Torres-Fleming, founder of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, would receive the award for New Ideas and Activism. Both women received their medals and $100,000 awards at a dinner ceremony in September 2008 in New York City.

In 2009, Damaris Reyes, Executive Director of Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), received the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism. Richard Kahan, as Founder and CEO of the Urban Assembly, which created and manages 22 secondary public schools located in many of the lowest income neighborhoods in New York City, received the 2009 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership. Both of them received $100,000, in addition to the medal.

The 2010 recipients were Joshua David and Robert Hammond, whose work in establishing the High Line park atop an unused elevated railroad line, led the Rockefeller Foundation to award the 2010 Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism, along with $60,000 for each of them. The 2010 Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership was given to Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, for her longtime work as writer, Park Administrator and co-founder of Central Park Conservancy. She also received $80,000.

The City of Toronto proclaimed Friday May 4, 2007, as Jane Jacobs Day in Toronto. Two dozen free walks around and about Toronto neighborhoods, dubbed Jane's Walk
Jane's Walk
Jane’s Walk is a series of neighbourhood walking tours. Named after urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs, Jane's Walks are held annually during the first weekend in May to coincide with her birthday....

, were held on Saturday May 5, 2007. A Jane's Walk
Jane's Walk
Jane’s Walk is a series of neighbourhood walking tours. Named after urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs, Jane's Walks are held annually during the first weekend in May to coincide with her birthday....

 event was held in New York in on September 29 and 30, 2007, and, for 2008, the event has spread to eight cities and towns across Canada.

She was also famous for her saying "Eyes on the Street", a reference to what would later be known as natural surveillance
Natural surveillance
Natural surveillance is a term used in "Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design" models for crime prevention. These models rely on the ability to influence offender decisions preceding criminal acts...

.

The Municipal Art Society
Municipal Art Society
The Municipal Art Society of New York, founded in 1893, is a non-profit membership organization that fights for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation through education, dialogue and advocacy in New York City....

 of New York has partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation is a prominent philanthropic organization and private foundation based at 420 Fifth Avenue, New York City. The preeminent institution established by the six-generation Rockefeller family, it was founded by John D. Rockefeller , along with his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr...

 to host an exhibit focusing on "Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York" which opened at the MAS on September 26, 2007. The exhibit aims to educate the public on her writings and activism and uses tools to encourage new generations to become active in issues involving their own neighborhoods. An accompanying exhibit publication includes essays and articles by such architecture critics, artists, activists and journalists as Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell, CM is a Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker. He is currently based in New York City and has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996...

, Reverend Billy, Robert Neuwirth
Robert Neuwirth
Robert Neuwirth is an American journalist and author. He wrote Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World, a book describing his experiences living in squatter communities in Nairobi, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Mumbai. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, and...

, Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Thomas Kennerly "Tom" Wolfe, Jr. is a best-selling American author and journalist. He is one of the founders of the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 1970s.-Early life and education:...

, Thomas de Monchaux, and William McDonough
William McDonough
William Andrews McDonough is an American architect, founding principal of , co-founder of with German chemist Michael Braungart as well as co-author of also with Braungart...

. Many of these contributors are participating in a series of panel discussions on "Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York" taking place at venues across the city in Fall, 2007.

Criticism


Jacobs was not professionally trained in the field of city planning, nor did she hold the title of planner, so her ideas in regards to planning were very much developed through personal experience and observation.

The planners and developers that she fought in order to preserve the West Greenwich Village were among those who initially critiqued her ideas. During this period, Robert Moses
Robert Moses
Robert Moses was the "master builder" of mid-20th century New York City, Long Island, Rockland County, and Westchester County, New York. As the shaper of a modern city, he is sometimes compared to Baron Haussmann of Second Empire Paris, and is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of...

 has generally been identified as her archrival. However since then, Jacobs’ theories and ideas have been analyzed many times, often in regards to the outcomes that their influences have produced.

In examples such as the West Greenwich Village, the factors that she argued would maintain economic and cultural diversity have instead led to gentrification and some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Arguably, her own white, white-collar family’s conversion of an old candy shop into a home was indicative of the gentrifying trend that would continue by employing Jacob’s ideas.

However, gentrification was also caused by "the completely unexpected influx of affluent residents back into the inner city". The extent to which her ideas facilitated this phenomenon was at the time unimaginable. For example, she advocated the preservation of older buildings specifically because their lack of economic value made them affordable for poor people. In this respect, she saw them as "guarantors of social diversity" (Klemek, 2011:76). That many of these older structures have increased in economic value solely due to their age was implausible in 1961. Issues of gentrification have dominated critiques of Jane Jacobs’ planning ideas. But her concepts have also been critiqued more broadly. For example, although her ideas of planning were praised at times as "universal", they were criticized as inapplicable when a city grows from one million to ten million (as has happened many times in the Third World). Such arguments suggest that the ideas apply only to cities with similar issues to that of New York, where Jacobs developed many of her ideas.

In respect to Third World cities, her ideas have been criticized for not addressing problems of scale, or explaining how infrastructure should be built. Perhaps her support of bottom-up and small-scale development initiatives would indicate that all urban areas are different and require individualized initiatives, as opposed to major projects of urban renewal.

Works



Jane Jacobs spent her life studying cities. Her books include:

The Death and Life of Great American Cities



The Death and Life of Great American Cities is her single-most influential book and possibly the most influential American book on urban planning and cities. Widely read by both planning professionals and the general public, the book is a strong critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s, which, she claimed, destroyed communities and created isolated, unnatural urban spaces. Jacobs advocated the abolition of zoning laws and restoration of free markets in land, which would result in dense, mixed-use neighborhoods and frequently cited New York City's Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village, , , , .in New York often simply called "the Village", is a largely residential neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan in New York City. A large majority of the district is home to upper middle class families...

 as an example of a vibrant urban community.

Robert Caro
Robert Caro
Robert Allan Caro is an American journalist and author known for his celebrated biographies of United States political figures Robert Moses and Lyndon B. Johnson...

 has cited it as the strongest influence on The Power Broker
The Power Broker
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York is a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1974 biography of Robert Moses, "New York City's Master Builder", by Robert Caro...

,
his Pulitzer
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

-winning biography of Robert Moses, though Caro does not mention Jacobs by name even once in the book despite Jacobs' battles with Moses over his proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway
Lower Manhattan Expressway
The Lower Manhattan Expressway was a controversial plan for an expressway through lower Manhattan originally conceived by Robert Moses in 1941, but delayed until the early 1960s...

.

Beyond the practical lessons in city design and planning that Death and Life offers, the theoretical underpinnings of the work challenge the modern development mindset. Jane Jacobs defends her positions with common sense and undeniable anecdote.

The Economy of Cities


The thesis of this book is that cities are the primary drivers of economic development. Her main argument is that explosive economic growth derives from urban import replacement
Import replacement
Import replacement refers to an urban free market economic process of entrepreneurs replacing the imports of the city with production from within the city....

. Import replacement is when a city begins to locally produce goods which it formerly imported, e.g., Tokyo bicycle factories replacing Tokyo bicycle importers in the 1800s. Jacobs claims that import replacement builds up local infrastructure, skills, and production. Jacobs also claims that the increased produce is exported to other cities, giving those other cities a new opportunity to engage in import replacement, thus producing a positive cycle of growth.

In the second part of the book, Jacobs argues that cities preceded agriculture. She argues that in cities trade in wild animals and grains allowed for the initial division of labor necessary for the discovery of husbandry and agriculture; these discoveries then moved out of the city due to land competition.

Cities and the Wealth of Nations


Cities and the Wealth of Nations attempts to do for economics what The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century...

did for modern urban planning, though it has not received the same critical attention. Beginning with a concise treatment of classical economics, this book challenges one of the fundamental assumptions of the greatest economists. Classical (and Neo-classical) economists consider the nation-state to be the main player in macroeconomics
Macroeconomics
Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of the whole economy. This includes a national, regional, or global economy...

. Jacobs argues that it is not the nation-state, rather it is the city which is the true player in this worldwide game. She restates the idea of import replacement from her earlier book The Economy of Cities, while speculating on the further ramifications of considering the city first and the nation second, or not at all.

The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty


The Question of Separatism incorporated and expanded Jacobs’ presentation of the 1979 Massey Lectures
Massey Lectures
The Massey Lectures are an annual week-long series of lectures on a political, cultural or philosophical topic given in Canada by a noted scholar. They were created in 1961 to honour Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada...

, entitled Canadian Cities and Sovereignty-Association. Published in 1980 and reprinted in 2011 with a previously unpublished 2005 interview on the subject, Jacobs' book advances the view that Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

's eventual independence is best for Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, the rest of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and the world; and that such independence can be achieved peacefully. As precedent, she cites Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

’s secession
Secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

 from Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and how it enriched both nations. The origins of the contemporary secessionist-movement in the Quiet Revolution
Quiet Revolution
The Quiet Revolution was the 1960s period of intense change in Quebec, Canada, characterized by the rapid and effective secularization of society, the creation of a welfare state and a re-alignment of politics into federalist and separatist factions...

 are examined, along with Canada’s historical reliance on natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 and foreign-owned manufacturing for its own economic development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

. Jacobs asserts that such an approach is colonial and hence backward, citing by example Canada buying its skis and furniture from Norway or Norwegian-owned factories in Canada, the latter procedure being a product of Canadian tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

s designed specifically to foster such factories. The relevant public views of René Lévesque
René Lévesque
René Lévesque was a reporter, a minister of the government of Quebec, , the founder of the Parti Québécois political party and the 23rd Premier of Quebec...

, Claude Ryan
Claude Ryan
Claude Ryan, was a Canadian politician and leader of the Parti libéral du Québec from 1978 to 1982. He was also the National Assembly of Quebec member for Argenteuil from 1979 to 1994.-Early life and career:...

, and then Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Pierre Trudeau are also critically analyzed, an example being their failure to recognize that two respective, independent currencies
Currency
In economics, currency refers to a generally accepted medium of exchange. These are usually the coins and banknotes of a particular government, which comprise the physical aspects of a nation's money supply...

 are essential to the success of an independent Quebec and a smaller resultant Canada, an issue that is central to her book. Jacobs stresses the need for Montreal to continue developing its leadership of Québécois culture, but that such a need can ultimately never be fulfilled by Montreal's increasing tendencies toward regional
Régional
Régional Compagnie Aérienne Européenne, or Régional for short, is a subsidiary airline wholly owned by Air France which connects hubs at Paris, Lyon, Clermont-Ferrand, and Bordeaux to 49 airports in Europe. The airline operates in Air France livery, retaining its name in small titles and logo on...

-city status, tendencies foretelling economic, political, and cultural subservience to English-speaking Toronto. Such an outcome, Jacobs believed, would in the long run doom Quebec's independence as much as it would hinder Canada's own future. She concludes with her observation that the popular equating of political secession with political and economic failure is the result of the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

, which perceived nature
Nature
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general...

 as a force for "standardization, uniformity, universality, and immutability." Since then, naturalists and their readers have gradually realized that nature is a force for diversity, and that, "diversity itself is of the essence of excellence." The right kind of secession, Jacobs states, can lead to the right kind of diversity, and Quebec and Canada are capable of both, and must achieve both, to survive.

Systems of Survival


Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics moves outside of the city, studying the moral
Moral
A moral is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim...

 underpinnings of work. As with her other work, she used an observational approach. This book is written as a Platonic dialogue
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

. It appears that she (as described by characters in her book) took newspaper clippings of moral judgements related to work, collected and sorted them to find that they fit two patterns of moral behaviour that were mutually exclusive. She calls these two patterns "Moral Syndrome A", or commercial moral syndrome, and "Moral Syndrome B", or guardian moral syndrome. She claims that the commercial moral syndrome is applicable to business owners, scientists, farmers, and traders. Similarly, she claims that the guardian moral syndrome is applicable to government, charities, hunter-gatherers, and religious institutions. She also claims that these Moral Syndromes are fixed, and do not fluctuate over time.

It is important to stress that Jane Jacobs is providing a theory about the morality of work, and not all moral ideas. Moral ideas that are not included in her syndrome are applicable to both syndromes.

Jane Jacobs goes on to describe what happens when these two moral syndromes are mixed, showing the work underpinnings of the Mafia
Mafia
The Mafia is a criminal syndicate that emerged in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily, Italy. It is a loose association of criminal groups that share a common organizational structure and code of conduct, and whose common enterprise is protection racketeering...

 and communism, and what happens when New York Subway Police are paid bonuses here — reinterpreted slightly as a part of the larger analysis.

The Nature of Economies


The Nature of Economies, a dialog between friends concerning the premise: "human beings exist wholly within nature as part of the natural order in every respect" (p ix), argues that the same principles underlie both ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s and economies
Economic system
An economic system is the combination of the various agencies, entities that provide the economic structure that defines the social community. These agencies are joined by lines of trade and exchange along which goods, money etc. are continuously flowing. An example of such a system for a closed...

: "development and co-development through differentiations and their combinations; expansion through diverse, multiple uses of energy; and self-maintenance through self-refueling" (p82).

Jacobs' characters discuss the four methods by which "dynamically stable systems" may evade collapse: "bifurcations; positive-feedback loops
Positive feedback
Positive feedback is a process in which the effects of a small disturbance on a system include an increase in the magnitude of the perturbation. That is, A produces more of B which in turn produces more of A. In contrast, a system that responds to a perturbation in a way that reduces its effect is...

; negative-feedback controls
Negative feedback
Negative feedback occurs when the output of a system acts to oppose changes to the input of the system, with the result that the changes are attenuated. If the overall feedback of the system is negative, then the system will tend to be stable.- Overview :...

; and emergency adaptations" (p86). Their conversations also cover the "double nature of fitness for survival" (traits to avoid destroying one's own habitat as well as success in competition to feed and breed, p119), and unpredictability including the butterfly effect
Butterfly effect
In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions; where a small change at one place in a nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state...

 characterized in terms of multiplicity of variables as well as disproportional response to cause, and self-organization
Self-organization
Self-organization is the process where a structure or pattern appears in a system without a central authority or external element imposing it through planning...

 where "a system can be making itself up as it goes along" (p137).

Through the dialogue, Jacobs' characters explore and examine the similarities between the functioning of ecosystems and economies. Topics include environmental and economic development, growth and expansion, and how economies and environments keep themselves alive through "self-refueling." Jacobs also comments on the nature of economic and biological diversity and its role in the development and growth of the two kinds of systems.

The book is infused with many real-world economic and biological examples, which help keep the book "down to earth" and comprehensible, if dense. Concepts are furnished with both economic and biological examples, showing their coherence in both worlds.

One particularly interesting insight is the creation of "something from nothing" — an economy from nowhere. In the biological world, free energy is given through sunlight, but in the economic world human creativity and natural resources supply this free energy, or at least starter energy. Another interesting insight is the creation of economic diversity through the combination of different technologies, for example the typewriter and television as inputs and outputs of a computer system: this can lead to the creation of "new species of work".

Dark Age Ahead


Published in 2004 by Random House, in Dark Age Ahead Jacobs argued that "North American" civilization showed signs of spiral of decline comparable to the collapse of the Roman empire. Her thesis focused on "five pillars of our culture that we depend on to stand firm," which can be summarized as the nuclear family (but also community), education, science, representational government and taxes, and corporate and professional accountability. As the title suggests, her outlook was far more pessimistic than in her previous books. However, in the conclusion she wrote that, "At a given time it is hard to tell whether forces of cultural life or death are in the ascendancy. Is suburban sprawl, with its murders of communities and wastes of land, time, and energy, a sign of decay? Or is rising interest in means of overcoming sprawl a sign of vigor and adaptability in North American culture? Arguably, either could turn out to be true."

See also

  • David Crombie
  • Fred Gardiner
  • Innovation Economics
    Innovation Economics
    Innovation economics or economics of innovation is a growing economic doctrine that reformulates conventional economics theory so that knowledge, technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation are positioned at the center of the model rather than seen as independent forces that are largely unaffected...

  • Urban secession
    Urban secession
    Urban secession is a city's secession from its surrounding region, to form a new political unit. This new unit is usually a subdivision of the same country as its surroundings, but in some cases, full sovereignty may be attained, in which case the unit is usually called a city-state...

  • List of urban theorists

Further reading


Books
  • Alexiou, Alice Sparberg. Jane Jacobs: Urban Visionary (2006) New Brunswick: Rutgers. Toronto: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-8135-3792-4
  • Flint, Anthony. "Wrestling with Moses" (2009) Random House. ISBN 978-1-4000-6674-2
  • Goldsmith, Stephen A. and Elizabeth, Lynne What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs (2010) Oakland, California: New Village Press. ISBN 0-9815593-1-X
  • Klemek, Christopher. The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal, Postwar Urbanism from New York to Berlin (2011) Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226441741.


Articles
  • Mark Rosenfelder (2000 ?) “It's the cities, stupid: Jane Jacobs on cities”. http://www.zompist.com/jacobs.html
  • Peter L. Laurence (2006) “Contradictions and complexities: Jane Jacobs’ and Robert Venturi’s complexity theories”, Journal of Architectural Education, 59 (3), pp. 49–60. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/toc/joae/59/3
  • Simon Jenkins (2006) Adapt, don't destroy: Leeds is the template to revive our scarred cities. The most unsung hero of 20th-century ideas died last week. In a single, devastating book Jane Jacobs crammed insights in human behaviour as deep as any by Freud, Keynes or Hayek. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,1767895,00.html
  • Peter L. Laurence (2006) “The Death and Life of Urban Design: Jane Jacobs, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the New Research in Urbanism”, Journal of Urban Design, 11 (Jun. 2006), pp. 145–71. http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/13574809.asp
  • Pierre Desrochers and Gert-Jan Hospers (Spring 2007) “Cities and the Economic Development of Nations: An Essay on Jane Jacobs’ Contribution to Economic Theory,” Canadian Journal of Regional Science, vol. 30, no. 1 , pp. 115–130. http://eratos.erin.utoronto.ca/desrochers/CJRS_Jacobs.pdf
  • Pierre Desrochers, “The Death and Life of a Reluctant Urban Icon,” A Review Essay on Jane Jacobs: Urban Visionary by Alice Sparberg Alexiou (Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006). Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 21, no. 3 (Fall 2007), pp. 115–36. http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/21_3/21_3_6.pdf
  • Ellerman, David 2005. “How Do We Grow?: Jane Jacobs on Diversification and Specialization.” Challenge. 48 (5 May – June): 50-83. http://www.ellerman.org/Davids-Stuff/Dev-Theory/Challenge-final-scan.pdf
  • Peter L. Laurence (2007) “Jane Jacobs (1916-2006): Before Death and Life”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 66 (Mar. 2007), pp. 5–15. http://www.sah.org/clientuploads/TextFiles/JSAH66-1tocabstracts.pdf

External links




Interviews

Audio and video

Websites

Obituaries and remembrances