Jeremy's Reviews > The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
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Jul 19, 14

it was amazing
bookshelves: sociological
Read from June 04 to 12, 2010

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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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Adrian (new)

Adrian Harlan This is a great book, I've red it several times but not in over twenty years. Glad to see people still read it!


Jeremy I'm digging it so far


message 3: by tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

tim I'm so glad you got something out of this. Not a whole lot has been added to these basics of urban planning presented by Jacobs 50+ years ago. It sounds like a planner might be hiding inside you?


Jeremy Well it certainly makes me want to read other stuff about urban planning. But I don't think I'd have the patience or the discipline to put up with all of the different municiple offices.


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