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Reconsidering Jane Jacobs

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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, and 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

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

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, former director, Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932364941
  • Publisher: American Planning Association (Planners Press)
  • Publication date: 6/16/2011
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Max Page is Professor of Architecture and History at the University of Massachusetts. Timothy Mennel is senior editor and acquisitions manager at the American Planning Association.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: More Than Meets the Eye 3

Max Page

1 The Unknown Jane Jacobs: Geographer, Propagandist, City Planning Idealist Peter L. Laurence 15

2 An Australian Jane Jacobs Jane M. Jacobs 37

3 The Literary Craft of Jane Jacobs Jamin Creed Rowan 43

4 Urban Warfare:The Battles for Buenos Aires Sergio Kiernan 57

5 The Magpie and the Bee: Jane Jacob's Magnificent Obsession Richard Harris 65

6 Jane Jacobs in Dutch Cities and Towns: Metropolitan Romance in Provincial Reality Gert-Jan Hospers 83

7 Time Scale and Control: How New Urbanism (Mis) Uses Jane Jacobs Jill L. Grant 91

8 Planning the Modern Arab City:The Case of Abu Dhabi Rudayna Abdo Geoffery M. Batzel,AICP 105

9 Jane Jacobs, Andy Warhol and the Kind of Problem a Community Is timothy Mennel 119

10 A Chinese Perspective Nathan Cherry, AICP 129

11 Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning Thomas J. Campanella 141

Notes 161

Contributors 181

Index 185

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