In the 1970s, New York City hit rock bottom. Crime was at its highest, middleclass exodus was in high gear, and bankruptcy loomed. Many people credit New York's “master builder,” Robert Moses, with turning Gotham around, despite his heavy-handed ways. Roberta Brandes Gratz contradicts this conventional view. She argues that New York City recovered precisely because of the waning power of Moses and the growing influence of Jane Jacobs, the pioneer of organic renewal projects.
As American cities face a new economic crisis, Jacobs's philosophy is again vital for metropolitan life. Gratz gives an on-the-ground account of urban renewal and community success. Her writingat once personal, political, and instructivebreaks down how the impossible was achieved.