Jane Jacobs: Urban Activist: R. I. P.
Most people would not know who Jane Jacobs is. She was one of the giants in the urban activism movement and for many years fought against rampant urbanism and against the shenanigans of politicos.
My first introduction to Jane Jacobs was as the author of the seminal book ” The Death and Life of Great American Cities”. This was part of required reading for the Urban Design Theory Class at Pratt Graduate School. Over the years I have had an opportunity to read a lot about her and also hear her once in the city.
New York City and in particular the West Village and Greenwich owe a lot of their existence to her.
Jane Jacobs, the writer and thinker who brought penetrating eyes and ingenious insight to the sidewalk ballet of her own Greenwich Village street and came up with a book that challenged and changed the way people view cities, [ link ]
Her book brought about a whole rethinking in the way politicians perceived cities. It brought about more citizen activism.
Opposing expressways, and supporting neighborhoods is a common theme in her life. In 1962, she was chairman of the Joint Committee to Stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway, 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, who had already forced through the Cross-Bronx Expressway and other motorways against neighborhood opposition. A PBS documentary series on New York’s history devoted a full hour of its fourteen-hour length strictly to the battle between Moses and Jacobs. [ link ]
There are few people today with the conviction and clarity of thought that she expressed.
Rest In Peace Jane Jacobs. The city is poorer by your loss