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Jane Jacobs quotes (showing 1-30 of 44)

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“To seek "causes" of poverty in this way is to enter an intellectual dead end because poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes.”
Jane Jacobs
“Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities.”
Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead
“By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any once place is always replete with new improvisations.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“You can neither lie to a neighbourhood park, nor reason with it. 'Artist's conceptions' and persuasive renderings can put pictures of life into proposed neighbourhood parks or park malls, and verbal rationalizations can conjure up users who ought to appreciate them, but in real life only diverse surroundings have the practical power of inducing a natural, continuing flow of life and use.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“You can't rely on bringing people downtown, you have to put them there.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“A city street equipped to handle strangers, and to make a safety asset, in itself, our of the presence of strangers, as the streets of successful city neighborhoods always do, must have three main qualities:

First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind.

And third, the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers. Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street. Almost nobody does such a thing. Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Neighborhood is a word that has come to sound like a Valentine. As a sentimental concept, 'neighborhood' is harmful to city planning. It leads to attempts at warping city life into imitations of town or suburban life. Sentimentality plays with sweet intentions in place of good sense.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“...frequent streets and short blocks are valuable because of the fabric of intricate cross-use that they permit among the users of a city neighbouhood.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“[Public housing projects] are not lacking in natural leaders,' [Ellen Lurie, a social worker in East Harlem] says. 'They contain people with real ability, wonderful people many of them, but the typical sequence is that in the course of organization leaders have found each other, gotten all involved in each others' social lives, and have ended up talking to nobody but each other. They have not found their followers. Everything tends to degenerate into ineffective cliques, as a natural course. There is no normal public life. Just the mechanics of people learning what s going on is so difficult. It all makes the simplest social gain extra hard for these people.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“The more successfully a city mingles everyday diversity of uses and users in its everyday streets, the more successfully, casually (and economically) its people thereby enliven and support well-located parks that can thus give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity. ”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“[Cities] are not like suburbs, only denser. They differ from towns and suburbs in basic ways, and one of these is that cities are, by definition, full of strangers.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“(The psuedoscience of planning seems almost neurotic in its determination to imitate empiric failure and ignore empiric success.)”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“As children get older, this incidental outdoor activity--say, while waiting to be called to eat--becomes less bumptious, physically and entails more loitering with others, sizing people up, flirting, talking, pushing, shoving and horseplay. Adolescents are always being criticized for this kind of loitering, but they can hardly grow up without it. The trouble comes when it is done not within society, but as a form of outlaw life.

The requisite for any of these varieties of incidental play is not pretentious equipment of any sort, but rather space at an immediately convenient and interesting place. The play gets crowded out if sidewalks are too narrow relative to the total demands put on them. It is especially crowded out if the sidewalks also lack minor irregularities in building line. An immense amount of both loitering and play goes on in shallow sidewalk niches out of the line of moving pedestrian feet.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“To generate exuberant diversity in a city's streets and districts four conditions are indispensable:

1. The district, and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function; preferably more than two...

2. Most blocks must be short; that is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.

3. The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in the economic yield they must produce. This mingling must be fairly close-grained.

4. There must be a sufficiently dense concentration of people, for whatever purposes they may be there...”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“The trouble with paternalists is that they want to make impossibly profound changes, and they choose impossibly superficial means for doing so.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Being human is itself difficult, and therefore all kinds of settlements (except dream cities) have problems. Big cities have difficulties in abundance, because they have people in abundance.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.”
Jane Jacobs
“His aim was the creation of self sufficient small towns,really very nice towns if you were docile and had no plans of your own and did not mind spending your life with others with no plans of their own. As in all Utopias, the right to have plans of any significance belonged only to the planner in charge.

- discussing Ebenezer Howards' Garden City”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Neighborhoods built up all at once change little physically over the years as a rule...[Residents] regret that the neighborhood has changed. Yet the fact is, physically it has changed remarkably little. People's feelings about it, rather, have changed. The neighborhood shows a strange inability to update itself, enliven itself, repair itself, or to be sought after, out of choice, by a new generation. It is dead. Actually it was dead from birth, but nobody noticed this much until the corpse began to smell.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Everyone is aware that tremendous numbers of people concentrate in city downtowns and that, if they did not, there would be no downtown to amount to anything--certainly not one with much downtown diversity.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Automobiles are often conveniently tagged as the villains responsible for the ills of cities and the disappointments and futilities of city planning. But the destructive effect of automobiles are much less a cause than a symptom of our incompetence at city building.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Traffic congestion is caused by vehicles, not by people in themselves.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“No neighbourhood or district, no matter how well established, prestigious or well heeled and no matter how intensely populated for one purpose, can flout the necessity for spreading people through time of day without frustrating its potential for generating diversity.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“I have been dwelling upon downtowns. This is not because mixtures of primary uses are unneeded elsewhere in cities. On the contrary they are needed, and the success of mixtures downtown (on in the most intensive portions of cities, whatever they are called) is related to the mixture possible in other part of cities.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“There is a widespread belief that americans hate cities. I think it is probable that Americans hate city failure, but, from the evidence, we certainly do not hate successful and vital city areas. On the contrary, so many people want to make use of such places, so many people want to work in them or live in them or visit in them, that municipal self-destruction ensues. In killing successful diversity combinations with money, we are employing perhaps our nearest equivalent to killing with kindness.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“((This is a long quote, but it is my favorite passage in Jacob's writing. - Scott))

Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any once place is always replete with new improvisations.

The stretch of Hudson Street where I live is each day the scene of an intricate sidewalk ballet. I make my own first entrance into it a little after eight when I put out my garbage gcan, surely a prosaic occupation, but I enjoy my part, my little clang, as the junior droves of junior high school students walk by the center of the stage dropping candy wrapper. (How do they eat so much candy so early in the morning?)

While I sweep up the wrappers I watch the other rituals of the morning: Mr Halpert unlocking the laundry's handcart from its mooring to a cellar door, Joe Cornacchia's son-in-law stacking out the empty crates from the delicatessen, the barber bringing out his sidewalk folding chair, Mr. Goldstein arranging the coils of wire which proclaim the hardware store is open, the wife of the tenement's super intendent depositing her chunky three-year-old with a toy mandolin on the stoop, the vantage point from which he is learning English his mother cannot speak. Now the primary childrren, heading for St. Luke's, dribble through the south; the children from St. Veronica\s cross, heading to the west, and the children from P.S 41, heading toward the east. Two new entrances are made from the wings: well-dressed and even elegant women and men with brief cases emerge from doorways and side streets. Most of these are heading for the bus and subways, but some hover on the curbs, stopping taxis which have miraculously appeared at the right moment, for the taxis are part of a wider morning ritual: having dropped passengers from midtown in the downtown financial district, they are now bringing downtowners up tow midtown. Simultaneously, numbers of women in housedresses have emerged and as they crisscross with one another they pause for quick conversations that sound with laughter or joint indignation, never, it seems, anything in between. It is time for me to hurry to work too, and I exchange my ritual farewell with Mr. Lofaro, the short, thick bodied, white-aproned fruit man who stands outside his doorway a little up the street, his arms folded, his feet planted, looking solid as the earth itself. We nod; we each glance quickly up and down the street, then look back at eachother and smile. We have done this many a morning for more than ten years, and we both know what it means: all is well.

The heart of the day ballet I seldom see, because part off the nature of it is that working people who live there, like me, are mostly gone, filling the roles of strangers on other sidewalks. But from days off, I know enough to know that it becomes more and more intricate. Longshoremen who are not working that day gather at the White Horse or the Ideal or the International for beer and conversation. The executives and business lunchers from the industries just to the west throng the Dorgene restaurant and the Lion's Head coffee house; meat market workers and communication scientists fill the bakery lunchroom. Character dancers come on, a strange old man with strings”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else. But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.”
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

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