NPR: Urban visionary Jane Jacobs Dies [Real Player]
Home Remedies: The Vibrant Legacy of Jane Jacobs
All in the Planning, and Worth Preserving [Real Player]
The New Yorker: Cities and Songs
Jane Jacobs Interviewed by Jim Kunstler
By the late 1950s and early 1960s, many noted experts had determined that the American city was approaching a nadir of sorts. With a tremendous exodus of people and capital away from the central city, radical change was called for, and as a result, many cities found themselves beset by massive urban renewal projects designed to remedy a vast array of social ills. Amidst this din, a feisty and contrary voice arose: Jane Jacobs. Based on her own observations in and around Greenwich Village, Jacobs through her activism and well-known books (which included “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”) began to articulate a critique that, challenging the prevailing trends towards massive urban renewal, cities actually benefited from densely populated streets and byways. She often referred to the near-constant motion of these places as the “sidewalk ballet”, and she argued forcefully for sustaining such places at all costs. While she eventually left the United States to live in Toronto, she continued to advocate for the vibrancy of cities for the remainder of her life, as she went on to pen works that included “The Economy of Cities”, “The Nature of Economics”, and “Dark Age Ahead.”
The first link will lead visitors to an encomium offered in this Thursday’s Toronto Star by the former mayor of Winnipeg, Glen Murray, who observes that Jacobs’ was “both an optimist and skeptic.” The second link will take users to a brief audio news feature from National Public Radio that includes comments by Robert Caro on Jacobs’ legacy and work. The third link whisks users to a piece by Witold Rybczynski in this Wednesday’s edition of Slate. In the piece, he discusses some of the criticism that has been leveled at her work over the years. The fourth link leads to a piece by the New York Times’ David W. Dunlap on Jacobs’ landmark work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, complete with an audio feature on her legacy. The fifth link leads to a short article from the May 17, 2004 New Yorker in which Jacobs returns to New York to offer comment on the state of urbanism in the city at that moment. The sixth link leads to a nice interview with Jacobs from 2000, conducted by another controversial commentator on American cities, James Kunstler. In the piece, they discuss Toronto and her early experiences in New York.
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