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Urban Legend Jane Jacobs Dies

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I'm sure quite a few of the people here on the forum has read her work, most notably The Death of Life of Great American Cities.  If not than her books are a must read for anyone interested in city life.

 

Jane Jacobs, 89: Urban legend

 

Apr. 25, 2006. 02:54 PM

WARREN GERARD

www.TORONTOSTAR.com

 

 

Jane Jacobs was a writer, intellectual, analyst, ethicist and moral thinker, activist, self-made economist, and a fearless critic of inflexible authority.

Mrs. Jacobs died this morning in Toronto. She was 89. An American who chose to be Canadian, Mrs. Jacobs was a leader in the fights to preserve neighbourhoods and kill expressways, first in New York City, and then in Toronto. Her efforts to stop the proposed expressway between Manhattan Bridge on east Manhattan and the Holland tunnel on the west ended contributed toward saving SoHo, Chinatown, and the west side of Greenwich Village.

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First Barnaby and now Jane Jacobs...what a bad week for the good guys.

 

This is my favorite (favourite, for you Canadians) line from the article:

 

“Eschewing jargon and received wisdom, she possessed an extraordinary clarity of mind that enabled her to reveal truths so obvious they were in visible to the rest of the world.”

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very sad. what a great, great lady she was for lower manhattan. i think about her sometimes while walking around, how can you not? she saved the city.

 

i was tickled to fairly recently read about how excited she was about the highline project, a very jane jacobs kind of thing.

 

rip barnaby too.

 

a jane link:

 

http://www.curbed.com/archives/2006/04/25/jane_jacobs_19162006.php

 

recent jane interviews:

 

http://www.curbed.com/archives/2006/04/25/jane_jacobs_speaks.php

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Mrs. Jacobs was no expert, bare of established credentials had limited formal education, but was a member of that wonderful school of amateurs — American writers who were observers, critics and original thinkers, including such names as Paul Goodman, William H. Whyte, Rachel Carson, Betty Friedan and Ralph Nader.

 

The Death and Life of Great American Cities.... This book certainly was an antidote to the conventional wisdom of planning. 

 

Interesting to see her mentioned in the same sense as Paul Goodman, who was an early critique of the modernist, zoned city (though known more as an activist and a "pied piper" of the 60s counterculture).  Goodman and his architect brother wrote "Communitas" as a critque of modern planning (way back in 1947 I think) coming from a decentralist anarchist perspective...about having living and working close at hand, not zoned into seperate districts. 

 

Goodmans urbanist writings is a good compliment to "The Death and Life".

 

One of the things I recall from Jacob's book is how to look at blocks and streets...that planners of that time saw abstract "blocks", when they should have been looking at streets (I'm not sure if I am putting this across right, so read the book), and her critique of the "viscious" Sarah Delano Roosvelt Park on the Lower East Side.

 

In some ways Jacob's writing forshadowed the concepts of defensible space, and Christopher Alexanders "Pattern Language", as well as the urban "historic" preservation movement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While it would have been great for Jane Jacobs to live forever, there is nothing sad in her having lived a long, very full and illuminating life. The sad part is that people like her are rare, and we couldn't afford to lose Jane Jacobs.


"The boss rolls up in a new Lamborghini and tells his staff 'The greatest part about America is that hard work breeds wealth. So if you work hard and dedicate yourself tirelessly to the task at hand, I can get another new Lamborghini next year.'” -- Overheard in a Cleveland bar.

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until she died i did not know it, but found out jane jacobs fittingly lived at 555 hudson st in this anonymous little apt building down the street from me in the west village. we walked by yesterday and saw some flowers and notes on her old apt door so i took a couple pics.

 

img98344hh.jpg

 

img98356dt.jpg

 

 

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as a follow-up and since it's our nabe too i guess, they are going to name a cute kiddie park or a street after her. both are near her apt building.

 

 

 

link:

http://www.gothamist.com/archives/2006/06/09/let_the_jane_ja.php

 

 

June 09, 2006

Let the Jane Jacobs Tributes Continue

 

 

Plans are in the works to name all or part of Bleecker Playground after the steely activist and mother of three who helped lay the groundwork for New Urbanism. Earlier this week, Community Board 2 discussed the tribute to Jane Jacobs, who died last April at 89. It's unclear whether the naming will cover the playground, the sitting area and the pathway from Hudson to Bleecker, or just the sitting area and pathway. Some residents don't want the actual playground renamed. They say it could endanger funds for a restoration project and kids will be confused if it suddenly were known by a different name.

 

Jacobs fought to preserve Greenwich Village and its environs in the face of urban renewal-style planning run amok. From her perch above a candy store at 555 Hudson Street, Jacobs, favored the everyday hustle and bustle of busy, mixed-use neighborhoods over post-war high-rises developed on bulldozed land. To this day, she has critics. Some say Jacobs' vision doesn't adequately accommodate new growth. New York magazine recently called Jacobs' vision "limited, with little room for new buildings, new neighborhoods."

 

Until Ms. Jacobs, author of 1961's Death and Life of Great American Cities, helped plan and raise money to design the Bleecker Street park (finally built in 1966), the site housed an empty warehouse. So, we think it's only fitting that the playground, sitting area and passageway be named for Ms. Jacobs. It's just not clear at all how the naming will interfere with the playground's renovation or endanger related funds and we're pretty sure that Greenwich Village kids can comprehend that the playground they know and love is named for someone important.

 

As someone pointed out at a recent Community Board 2 meeting, does anyone refer to Sixth Avenue as the Avenue of the Americas? Okay, well, in offices and on envelopes and letterhead, people actually do, but we get the point.

 

Community Board 2 votes on the playground proposal either this month or next. There's a meeting next week, too, on renaming the stretch of Hudson Street from Perry Street to West 11th "Jane Jacobs Way."

 

 

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It doesn't seem to be playing anywhere in the Connecticut Western Reserve. I'd like to see it. I just bought my girlfriend a copy of Death and Life. That would make a great date night. Maybe it'll end up on Netflix.

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