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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 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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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 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."

39 review for Reconsidering Jane Jacobs

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    3.5 stars. There were good insights and I did appreciate the varying perspectives on Jane Jacobs, and it has improved my understanding of Jacobs's lasting impact, both positive and negative. Most of the essays, however, lacked teeth. Despite the shorter nature of a collection of essays, I think most of the authors could have had stronger points. My favorite essays were "Jane Jacobs, Andy Warhol, and the Kind of Problem a Community Is," by Timothy Mennel, "A Chinese Perspective," by Nathan Cherry 3.5 stars. There were good insights and I did appreciate the varying perspectives on Jane Jacobs, and it has improved my understanding of Jacobs's lasting impact, both positive and negative. Most of the essays, however, lacked teeth. Despite the shorter nature of a collection of essays, I think most of the authors could have had stronger points. My favorite essays were "Jane Jacobs, Andy Warhol, and the Kind of Problem a Community Is," by Timothy Mennel, "A Chinese Perspective," by Nathan Cherry (Not sure how Chinese this perspective really is if he's based in Los Angeles? I did not see anything in his essay or biography ever mentioning being a permanent resident of China at any time in his life?) and "Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning," by Thomas J. Campanella. Mennel's essay highlighted the many different traits people enjoy in a city, and that some, like Warhol, prefer the anonymity and independence of a large city to Jacobs's cozy city block that in many ways is more reflective of a small town than a city today. The international essays throughout the book were insightful to how much development and government can vary, especially when comparing the United States to non-Western countries like the United Arab Emirates and China. Each city presents a unique history that informs its future. In Cherry's essay on China, and even moreso in Abdo's and Batzel's essay about Abu Dhabi, there seemed to be bias in how the subject was portrayed. (Abu Dhabi in particular was presented as almost a paradise on earth, despite many aspects of its description undoubtedly being sources of contention or conflict. Not to mention that it's still a monarchy.) Campanella's essay was the most impactful, with excellent anecdotes and a strong overview of Jacobs's influence on urban planning in the United States. I felt though that some of his criticisms should have acknowledged the complicated political environment planning decisions are made in that limit planners' options. These are meant to be short essays for readers familiar with Jacobs and planning, though, so perhaps he did not consider it a necessary acknowledgement, especially for a limited word count. Some claims would not have been improved with elaboration however, because they were already incredibly stale. Arguments such as the one that progressives have produced "a welfare-state culture that has created a generation of Americans expecting handouts like spoiled children." do not personally inspire confidence in Campnella's ability to promote the equity he says he desires.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    The publisher's description and cover blurbs oversell this collection of twelve essays on the intellectual legacy of Jane Jacobs, author of the Death and Life of Great American Cities and several other works on urban and economic theory. Published by the American Planning Association to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Death and Life, this collection has two or three standout essays. Five of the essays describe Jacobs' influence in Australia, Argentina, the Netherlands, Abu Dhabi, The publisher's description and cover blurbs oversell this collection of twelve essays on the intellectual legacy of Jane Jacobs, author of the Death and Life of Great American Cities and several other works on urban and economic theory. Published by the American Planning Association to mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Death and Life, this collection has two or three standout essays. Five of the essays describe Jacobs' influence in Australia, Argentina, the Netherlands, Abu Dhabi, and China. The upshot is that the core ideas Jacobs explored - how neighborhoods and cities function, both spatially and economically - are lively, relevant issues in all urban communities; but Jacob's work is only deeply influential in the Netherlands. The essay on China, perversely, reads as an endorsement of the kind of massive public works projects Jacobs abhorred. A recurring theme of the essays is that Jacobs and her ideas were characteristic of her time and place, which is surely true of any successful thinker to some extent, but I think most of the essays miss the more interesting point: that Jacobs was ahead of her time in her analysis of systems. Most of these authors write far more academically than Jacobs and few are as insightful. The essays I particularly liked, and will probably reread, included Peter Laurence, 'the Unknown Jane Jacobs', which explores how Jacob's professional experiences shaped her view of the city; and Jill Grant, 'Time, Scale, and Control,' a lucid explanation of the common strands and differences between Jacob's thought and New Urbanism. Thomas Campanella's closing essay, 'Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning', argues (vigorously) that planners since Jacobs have wrongly abdicated their professional authority, and need to reassert themselves to save America's cities. Overall, the collection is worth checking out of a library or buying at as discount; at 160 pages of text, it is disconcertingly thin at its full price.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Robert Baird

    About half-way through when I left it on the plane. Waiting for somebody to buy it so I can read it after them.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Irma Verhoeven

  5. 4 out of 5

    Christine Ph.D.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  7. 4 out of 5

    Yuri Artibise

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Lock

  9. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Martin Gelinder

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alix

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rafe

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jeramey

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brian Jennett

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bridget

  17. 4 out of 5

    niftynei

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiea

  19. 5 out of 5

    Peter Laurence

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara

  21. 4 out of 5

    Paige

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adam Ploetz

  28. 5 out of 5

    James

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dustin

  31. 4 out of 5

    Andy

  32. 5 out of 5

    James & Trisha

  33. 5 out of 5

    Nessa33

  34. 4 out of 5

    Birgit's Library

  35. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

  36. 5 out of 5

    Info Center

  37. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  38. 5 out of 5

    Alessandra Massaro

  39. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

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