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Reconsidering Jane Jacobs

By Max Page, Timothy Mennel

This book reminds planning professionals of the full range and complexity of Jane Jacobs's ideas and offers thoughtful critiques on the unintended consequences of her ideas on cities and planning today.

Published by APA Planners Press, 2011

Format: Hardcover, 200 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-932364-94-1

Quick order code: A64941

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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 of urban renewal and public housing complexes, and the rise of the new urbanist movement without Jane Jacobs. It may be hard to imagine gated communities, gentrification, and the Disneyfication of urban centers without her as well.

This volume begins with the premise that the deepest respect is shown through honest critique. One of the greatest problems in understanding the influence of Jane Jacobs on cities and planning is that she has for much of the past five decades been "Saint Jane," the "housewife" who upended urban renewal and gave us back our cities. Over time, she has become a saintly stick figure, a font of simple wisdom for urban health that allows many to recite her ideas and few to understand their complexity. She has been the victim of her own success.

Reconsidering Jane Jacobs gives this important thinker the respect she deserves, reminding planning professionals of the full range and complexity of her ideas and offering thoughtful critiques on the unintended consequences of her ideas on cities and planning today. It also looks at the international relevance — or lack thereof — of her work, with essays on urbanism in Abu Dhabi, Argentina, China, the Netherlands, and elsewhere.

Contributors include a range of urbanists, planners, and scholars, including Thomas Campanella, Jill L. Grant, Richard Harris, Nathan Cherry, Peter Laurence, Jane M. Jacobs, and others.

About the Editors

Max PageMax Page is professor of architecture and history at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. A 2003 Guggenheim Fellow, he teaches and writes about the design, development, and politics of cities and architecture. His most recent book is The City's End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York's Destruction (2008), and he is the author of The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, 1900–1940 (1999), which won the Spiro Kostof Award of the Society of Architectural Historians, for the best book on architecture and urbanism. He coedited Building the Nation: Americans Write Their Architecture, Their Cities, and Their Environment (2003), and Giving Preserving a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States (2003). Page has written for Architecture magazine, the New York Times, Metropolis, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He is currently researching a book on the future of historic preservation, supported by a Fulbright Fellowship and a Howard Foundation Fellowship.

Timothy MennelTimothy Mennel is senior editor and acquisitions manager of Planners Press and PAS Reports at the American Planning Association in Chicago. He coedited Green Community (2009) and Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York (2007); his 2007 dissertation in geography was a three-volume annotated novel about Robert Moses. He has published in the Journal of Planning History and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians and has been an editor at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Random House, Artforum, and elsewhere.

About the Contributors

Rudayna Abdo, AICP, is director of planning at Otak International's Abu Dhabi office. She is the former director of the American Institute of Certified Planners at the American Planning Association and a former associate at Perkins+Will.

Geoffrey M. Batzel, AICP, is director of urban planning for KEO International Consultants. He holds a master's in business administration from the Kellogg School of Management and a master's in urban planning from McGill University.

Thomas J. Campanella is associate professor of urban planning and design at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome. He is a recipient of Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships and has held teaching and visiting appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Nanjing University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Campanella's books include The ConcreteDragon: China's Urban Revolution and What It Means for the World (2008); Republic of Shade: New England and the American Elm (2003), winner of the Spiro Kostof Award; and Cities from the Sky: An Aerial Portrait of America (2001). He is also, with Lawrence Vale, of The Resilient City: How ModernCities Recover from Disaster (2005).

Nathan Cherry, AICP, is vice president in charge of planning and urban design for the Los Angeles office of RTKL and author of Grid / Street / Place: Essential Elements of Sustainable Urban Districts (APA Planners Press, 2009).

Jill L. Grant is professor of planning at Dalhousie University. Her books include Planning the Good Community: New Urbanism in Theory and Practice (2006) and The Drama of Democracy: Contention and Dispute in Community Planning (1994).

Richard Harris is professor of geography and earth sciences at McMaster University. His books include Creeping Conformity How Canada Became Suburban,1900–1960 (2004) and Unplanned Suburbs: Toronto's American Tragedy,1900–1950 (1996).

Gert-Jan Hospers teaches economic geography at the University of Twente and has a special chair in city and regional marketing at the Radboud University Nijmegen, both in Netherlands. In 2004 he visited Jane Jacobs in Toronto. His writings on Jacobs have appeared in Dutch publications, as well as the Canadian Journal of Regional Science, European Planning Studies, and Planning Theory and Practice.

Jane M. Jacobs is professor of cultural geography at the University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences. Her publications include (with R. Fincher) Cities of Difference (1998) and Edge of Empire: Postcolonialism and the City (1996).

Sergio Kiernan is the architecture editor of Página 12, the foremost investigative paper in Argentina, and the author of Classical and Vernacular: The Architecture of Alejandro Moreno and SYASA 20 Years, about the restoration of the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.

Peter L. Laurence is graduate director and assistant professor of architecture at the Clemson University School of Architecture. Parts of his dissertation, "Jane Jacobs, American Architectural Criticism and Urban Design Theory, 1935–1965," have been published in the Journal of Architectural Education, the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, and the Journal of Urban Design.

Jamin Creed Rowan is assistant professor of English at Brigham Young University. He specializes in U.S. literature since 1865, with a particular focus on urban literature and culture. His work has been supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Archive Center and has appeared in American Literature and Studies in American Fiction. His book Urban Sympathy: The Death and Life of an American Intellectual Tradition is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

In the News

Design Ideas: Reconsidering Jane Jacobs
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 21, 2012

Table of Contents