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The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Modern Library Series) Hardcover – February 9, 1993
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Top Customer Reviews
Jacobs begins her book with a brief history of where modern city planning came from. According to the author, the mess we call cities today emerged from Utopian visionaries from Europe and America beginning in the 19th century. Figures such as Ebenezer Howard, Lewis Mumford, Le Corbusier, and Daniel Burnham all had a significantly dreadful impact on how urban areas are built and rebuilt. These men all envisioned the city as a dreadful place, full of overcrowding, crime, disease, and ugliness. Howard wished to destroy big cities completely in order to replace them with small towns, or "Garden Cities," made up of small populations. Similar in thought to Howard, Mumford argued for a decentralization of cities into thinned out areas resembling towns. Le Corbusier, says Jacobs, inaugurated yet another harmful plan for cities: the "Radiant City.Read more ›
In response to the reviewer from N.H. who said Jacobs vindicates conservatism: I don't completely agree. Jacobs' work criticizes liberal reliance on big government housing/urban renewal projects, but is equally critical of big government highway projects that a lot of conservatives seem to like.
Cities remains the classic book on how cities work and
how urban planners and others have naively destroyed
functioning cities. It is widely known for its incisive
treatment of those who would tear down functioning neighborhoods
and destroy the lives and livelihoods of people for the sake of a
groundless but intellectually appealing daydream.
But although many see it as a polemic against urban planning,
the best parts of it, the parts that have endeared it to
many who love cities, are quite different. Death and Life
is, first of all, a work of observation. The illustrations
are all around us, she says, and we must go and look. She
shows us parts of the city that are alive -- the streets,
she says, are the city that we see, and it is the streets and
sidewalks that carry the most weight -- and find the patterns
that help us not merely see but understand. She shows us the city as
an ecology -- a system of interactions that is more than
merely the laying out of buildings as if they were a
child's wooden blocks.
But observation can mean simply the noting of objects.
Ms. Jacobs writes beautifully, lovingly, of New York
City and other urban places. Her piece "The Ballet of
Hudson Street" is both an observation of events on the
Greenwich Village street where she lived and a prose poem
describing the comings and goings of the people, the rhythms
of the shopkeepers and the commuters and others who use the
street.Read more ›
I have a community of friends I did not have in the suburbs and as the price of gas soars I don't have to move my car to get 90% of the things I need. Thank you Jane Jacobs, your work changed my life for the better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was written long ago but the ideas, concepts, and observations made by the author still ring true to this day. Great book for any planning student.Published 16 days ago by StilettoStarlet
Every person living in a city should read this book. Most of us who have studied Jane Jacobs are either architects, urbanists or simply interested in how cities work. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Xavier Atlas
It's all been said before. If you're a student of the built environment, this is required reading. Beautifully written, providing insights which changed the direction of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Valerie Taylor
Great read. I enjoyed that it was an original run of the book.Published 4 months ago by Laurel Davis