The Death and Life of Great American Cities Quotes by Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs: The Life and Death of Great American Cities
Rereading: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
I n Donald Barthelme's short story "I Bought a Little City" , the narrator decides one day to purchase Galveston, Texas, where he then tears down some houses, shoots 6, dogs, and rearranges what remains into the shape of a giant Mona Lisa jigsaw puzzle visible only from the air. As with much of Barthelme's work, the premise seems so absurd that one can't help but shake it until a metaphor falls out, and here one might well assume that, in the words of the novelist Donald Antrim, "I Bought a Little City" is "a take on the role that a writer has in writing a story — playing god, in a certain way". But Barthelme first arrived in Greenwich Village, where he would live for most of the rest of his life, in the winter of , just as local campaigners were narrowly defeating an attempt by the despotic city planner Robert Moses to run a lane elevated highway through the middle of Washington Square Park. For decades, Moses really did play god with New York, and for anyone who ever lived within his kingdom, "I Bought a Little City', which was first published in the New Yorker, might not have seemed so absurd after all. Those local campaigners were led by Jane Jacobs, another great Greenwich Village writer. For a rigorous and polemical manual of urban planning, it achieved a remarkably wide readership, perhaps because it's such a rare joy to read a book about cities written by someone who actually seems to appreciate what makes them fun to live in.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is.
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The Death and Life of Great American Cities Summary & Study Guide Description
The book is a critique of s urban planning policy, which it holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Jacobs was a critic of " rationalist " planners of the s and s, especially Robert Moses , as well as the earlier work of Le Corbusier. She argued that modernist urban planning overlooked and oversimplified the complexity of human lives in diverse communities. She opposed large-scale urban renewal programs that affected entire neighborhoods and built freeways through inner cities. She instead advocated for dense mixed use development and walkable streets, with the "eyes on the street" of passers-by helping to maintain public order.
I tried, and did…. I have to admit that I skimmed much of the last third of the book, chapters in which Jacobs proposes techniques to bolster the vitality of city blocks and eliminate or, at least, blunt the results of bad planning. In the last third of the book, Jacobs is getting very nuts-and-bolts about ideas for improvement, such as tearing down high-rise public housing and creating fast-track city licensing procedures, that seem to have been germinating in many minds for a good while. Acting like urban gods, Moses and the others had sought to enliven cities by scouring away neighborhoods so that they could impose a seeming order and clarity on the cityscape through superblocks containing towering structures and vast plazas. Everything is inter-related. Everything is related to everything else.