Essay Title: 

Jane Jacobs – The Death and Life of Great American Cities

March 17, 2016 | Author: | Posted in antique literature, literature and language


Jane Jacobs ‘ 1961 work The Death and Life of Great American Cities examines the problems with post-World War II urban planning and argue that cities should embrace visual and social diversity , interaction , and mixed uses in neighborhoods . She aims her most pointed criticisms at the disastrous urban renewal projects of the 1950s and `60s , which she argues disrupted neighborhood fabrics and worsened urban conditions instead of improving them


Jacobs argues that great cities require must look beyond simply [banner_entry_middle]

neighborhoods and take a more holistic approach , with safe streets clear delineations between public and private spaces , small blocks , and low-rise buildings from which the sidewalks are easily visible . Great urban environments literally start with the streets and sidewalks , where people interact with both one another throughout the day and the built environment . Vital cities need and should encourage social interactions , have a variety of uses (residential and commercial should have spaces that allow such interaction (like safe streets and parks , and should embrace a degree of social and visual diversity . She also maintains that cities do not need to be decentralized or redistributed , as planners of the time were doing , and that planners must heed cities ‘ social and physical realities rather than imposing theories . Urban renewal projects often fail because they are too large in scale , lack diverse amenities (many were mostly commercial projects for example , and were homogeneous spaces where social interaction did not frequently occur throughout the day


Forms of social interaction (other than those created by public spaces like social organizations and residential classes help because they unite people from different backgrounds and neighborhoods , and ethnic organizations help assimilate and include newcomers , who often find urban life isolating and alienating . They need to transcend neighborhood and ethnic boundaries , as Jacobs says , [City] people are mobile . [and] are not stuck with the provincialism of a neighborhood , any why should they be ? Isn ‘t wide choice and rich opportunity the point of cities (Jacobs 116 ) Isolation , Jacobs claims , is bad for cities because it contributes more to crime and slum development than low income alone


Jacobs believes that post-World War II urban planners had good intentions but used inappropriate methods of dealing with cities , often because they adhered to theories instead of examining cities ‘ realities which often contradicted the theories and principles they used . In addition , she claims they had an innate fear and disdain for cities favoring suburbs (much like the federal government did , with highway construction and the FHA ‘s suburban bias ) and applying methods to cities that overlooked the conditions necessary for social interaction and public safety . Planners often embraced urban renewal projects such as high-rise housing projects and large commercial complexes , which failed because their size discouraged easy monitoring of the sidewalks and streets , did not generate sufficient pedestrian traffic at all times of day , lacked a balance of amenities with residences , and promoted more danger and less use than… [banner_entry_footer]

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