Reconsidering Jane Jacobs

By Max Page, Timothy Mennel

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Fifty years after the publication of her most influential book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs is perhaps the most widely read urbanist ever. Her ideas contributed to the wholesale reevaluation of the tenets of contemporary planning: urban renewal, public housing, highways, and zoning. It is hard to imagine the renewed appreciation of neighborhood life, the rejection o...

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Page Count
Date Published
March 1, 2011
APA Planners Press

About the Authors

Max Page

Timothy Mennel

Table of Contents

Introduction: More Than Meets the Eye
Max Page

The Unknown Jane Jacobs: Geographer, Propagandist, City Planning Idealist
Peter L. Laurence

An Australian Jane Jacobs
Jane M. Jacobs

The Literary Craft of Jane Jacobs
Jamin Creed Rowan

Urban Warfare: The Battles for Buenos Aires
Sergio Kiernan

The Magpie and the Bee: Jane Jacobs's Magnificent Obsession
Richard Harris

Jane Jacobs in Dutch Cities and Towns: Metropolitan Romance in Provincial Reality
Gert-Jan Hospers

Time, Scale, and Control: How New Urbanism (Mis)Uses Jane Jacobs
Jill L. Grant

Planning the Modern Arab City: The Case of Abu Dhabi
Rudayna Abdo, AICP, and Geoffrey M. Batzel, AICP

Jane Jacobs, Andy Warhol, and the Kind of Problem a Community Is
Timothy Mennel

A Chinese Perspective
Nathan Cherry, AICP

Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning
Thomas J. Campanella





"Finally — a great book on Jane Jacobs, the universally respected fountainhead of wisdom about cities. It provides an indispensable reassessment of her writings and her ideas that is freshly relevant to today's planners, students, and citizens as they grapple with issues she never envisioned."

—Alexander Garvin, principal, AGA Public Realm Strategists

"Reconsidering Jane Jacobs not only extends Jane Jacobs's ideas from Greenwich Village to the global village but also probes the myths and contradictions in her formation and critical reception. The dozen essays in this collection combine significant new research with insightful reflections on an original range of topics. Six decades after The Death and Life of Great American Cities and five years after her own death, Jacobs continues to live on in the intellectual life of an ever more urbanized world grappling with the question of what makes cities great."

—Joan Ockman, University of Pennsylvania; former director, Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University

"With this eye-opening book, Jane Jacobs finally begins to receive the thorough reconsideration for which she has long been overdue. For two generations, Jacobs and her ideas have been flattened into formula, turning her into a simplified figure casually invoked by all sorts, from neighborhood activists to new urbanist planners. It's high time that her work and its world-spanning influence on city life got the kind of searching, rigorous, revitalizing attention lavished on Jacobs by the contributors to this excellent collection."

—Carlo Rotella, Director of the American Studies Program and Director of the Lowell Humanities Series, Boston College; author of October Cities: The Redevelopment of Urban Literature

"'Please look closely at real cities,' Jane Jacobs wrote 50 years ago on the first page of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities"-and what has been the consequence? The 12 compelling essays in Reconsidering Jane Jacobs faithfully record both the tremendous and continuing impacts that Jane Jacobs's own observations have had on the world, and the dissatisfactions and difficulties many still have with her way of observing and learning about cities-'listen, linger and think about what you see' were her instructions. This is a fascinating, complex, and honest book."

—Tony Hiss, author of In Motion and The Experience of Place; visiting scholar at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

"Nothing demonstrates the need for this book more vividly than Max Page's opening story of viewing Jane Jacobs's 'utterly ordinary' West Village home, a narrow three-storey building on Hudson Street where she lived in the 1950s and '60s, on sale in 2009 for $3.5 million. The hyper-gentrification of Lower Manhattan is just one symptom of the complicated legacy left by Jacobs, revered goddess of urban theory. The essays in this expansive collection interrogate and excavate the real details of Jacobs's thought. It will clarify and deepen Jacobs's ideas for novices and aficionados alike."

—Mark Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto, author of Concrete Reveries: Consciousness and the City

"Reconsidering Jane Jacobs goes far beyond reconsidering. It probes all kinds of fascinating new issues, such as how Jacobs's work has been used abroad in places as diverse as China, Argentina, and Australia, and how it has empowered new urbanists while undermining professional planners. Published on the 50th anniversary of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, this book pays important tribute to Jacobs by demonstrating how much her legacy continues to challenge and stimulate."

—Lizabeth Cohen, Howard Mumford Jones Professor of American Studies, Harvard University; author of A Consumers' Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America