Jeremy's Reviews > The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
by Jane Jacobs
by Jane Jacobs
I've never read anything about city planning or urban studies before, so this was all quite new to me. Jacobs creates a vivid, wide ranging critique of the dominant forms of city planning, which are driven as she compellingly points out, by stupidly reactionary, romantic notions about how people should be made to live. I'd never really thought in a concerted way before about how things like sidewalk width, the ages of buildings, the the location of public buildings etc. would effect how people move, interact and live within a city. Her method of simple, direct observation reveals an entire strata around us which shapes our lives, our culture and our municipal policies, usually without much notice on our part. Whenever I drive around the not-quite-great American city I live in, I now find myself trying to determine if the blocks are too long, if the road-bed is too wide, and noticing how the space around most of the parks is conspicuously empty and dead. And as someone who grew up surrounded by belligerently provincial mid-westerners, it's really refreshing to have someone vehemently explain how and why large cities are not only a valid kind of place to live, but can actually be essential. I'd highly recommend this, especially to anyone who like me, is a total newbie when it comes to urbanism.
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