Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $4.25 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 20, 2016
|New from||Used from|
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
“Engrossing . . . Definitive . . . Excels in capturing the tone of Jane Jacobs’s life, how her straight-forward impatience with anything ‘stagnant’ and ‘dull’ ran like a thread throughout. Her warmth comes through too.” —Catherine Tumber, The American Prospect
“Kanigel’s book is sure-footed and even skeptical at times, and if he lapses into whimsicality now and then, skimming lightly over the surface of Jacobs’s ideas, he has offered something few others have in a crowded field: a new way of seeing this familiar, almost sainted figure. . . . Life, vitality, newness, constant becoming—these, Kanigel reveals, were the true subject of Jacobs’s most famous book—and of her life’s work.” —Samuel Zipp, n+1
"A powerful and all too rare biography of the making of a female public intellectual . . . It’s thrilling to read here about Jacobs’s public face-offs with minions of Robert Moses over the Lower Manhattan Expressway project; but, it’s just as thrilling to be privy to how she developed her thinking about how cities worked." —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air (NPR)
"The definitive Jacobs biography illuminating how her ideas rankled, spread and then garnered her such devotion . . . Kanigel’s book invites the question of how this woman who forced so many of us to see cities differently might help us interpret their state today, and whether she’s up to the task." —Emily Badger, The Washington Post
"Kanigel has found the right tone for his subject, light but serious." —Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker
"Mr. Kanigel tells this story well. [And he] does a fine job of describing the shock the book [The Death and Life of Great American Cities] caused. He also calls attention to insightful critiques, such as the one written by sociologist Herbert Gans." —John Buntin, Wall Street Journal
"Kanigel rightly tries to counter some of the deification around Jacobs’s cultural standing, leaving us with a work of wary appreciation that perhaps isn’t quite wary enough . . . [His] book invites the rest of us to keep debating." —Ginia Ballafante, The New York Times Book Review
“Kanigel records the twists and turns of Jacobs’s evolution from stenographer to author in a way that makes her evolution seem more inevitable than incredible . . . If you have any interest in Jane Jacobs, [read] this biography.” —James R. Kelly, America
“What you may not know about her—and what makes this book so enthralling—is that [Jane Jacobs] had a rebellious streak starting in third grade, got into debates everywhere she went, raised three children, and got arrested twice. What a character.” —Nashville Arts Magazine
"A well-researched, comprehensive portrait of Jacobs—one that is both reverent and realistic . . . It becomes expansive and fascinating as Jacobs moves through the city, beginning to observe the streets and people that would inform her later work." —Hilary Reid, The Brooklyn Rail
"It’s a delight to discover the formation of personalities as powerful as Jacobs’s, and Eyes on the Street is chock-full of clues to her character." —Drake Baer, Science of Us
"A narrative of terrific readability . . . effusive and immensely affectionate." —Steve Donoghue, Open Letter Monthly
"A fond and perceptive new biography of Jane Jacobs." —Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor
"Sparkling . . . Magisterial . . . [Eyes on the Street] is an exhaustively researched, beautifully rendered tale, revealing the human contours of a vigorous, original mind." —Hamilton Cain, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Traces Jacob’s intellectual development from New York-based freelance journalist to activist who not only wrote groundbreaking books but also took on 1960’s political behemoths Carmine DeSapio and Robert Moses." —Marc Weingarten, The Guardian
"A portrait emerges of an independent heroine who stepped into an arena dominated by men. She was Betty Friedan, Rachel Carson, and Erin Brockovich all rolled into one." —Anthony Flint, Boston Globe
"Eyes on the Street is the Jane Jacobs biography I’ve been waiting for." —Richard Florida, Citylab
"Kanigel has created what will likely become the definitive biography of Jane Jacobs in her centenary year. . . . Jane Jacobs was a woman in an overwhelming male field and lacked a planning degree, yet as Kanigel shows, she became and remains the most important urban visionary of our time." —Randy Shaw, Beyond Chron
"A first-rate in-depth appreciation of Jane Jacobs as one of the most influential intellectual figures of the 20th century. More of a personal story than an intellectual history, Kanigel brings this extraordinary woman to life while showing how her ideas unfolded, so that even readers unfamiliar with Jacobs and her work gain insights into how a curious and tenacious mind transformed both the ways we look at cities and our strategies of community activism." —Marilyn Gates, New York Journal of Books
“[A] first-rate story of one of the great independent thinkers of the 20th century . . . Kanigel handles her story with respect, humor, and scrupulous scholarship” —Shelf Awareness
"[Jane Jacobs] was great, and Kanigel gives her the great biography she deserves . . . Thanks to Eyes on the Street, we come to appreciate her intellectual development and professional achievements in all their fullness." —Edward Glaeser, The American Scholar
"Zestfully illuminating and entertaining . . . Kanigel’s delight in his subject, 'one of the premier intellectual figures of the twentieth century,' shimmers on every page . . . He takes full measure of [Jacobs’s] accomplishments and influence and elucidates the scope and passion of her unique quest to understand what sustains civilization." —Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Find out how an owlish thinker on a bicycle defeated the urban planner Robert Moses, saved Greenwich Village, and continues to shape your favorite American cities." —Esquire
"The author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which turned the world of city planning upside down, has become a cultural icon. Robert Kanigel’s compelling biography fleshes out a complicated and at the same time straightforward person: 'She worked hard; she finished what she started.'" —Witold Rybczynski
"Jane Jacob’s life was chock-full of insights, merriment, amazing stories, aphorisms, mischief, astonishing antics, principled actions, and of course writing. Kanigel has captured it all in this compulsively readable life of Jane." —John Sewell, former mayor of Toronto.
"Perceptive, informative, and a useful companion for readers of Jane Jacobs’s classic Death and Life of Great American Cities. It is also an inspirational story of a restless small town girl who heads to the big city with only her shorthand skills, but quickly transforms herself from secretary to journalist, to well-known architectural critic and then an internationally famous author." —Herbert Gans, author of The Levittowners and Imagining America in 2033
"Kanigel brings Jane Jacobs the woman to life. Jane—writer, activist, daughter, wife, mother—is beautifully profiled to give us deeper understanding of what it took to make a revolution in urban thinking and looking." —Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers’ Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America
"An outstanding chronicle of a provocative, influential, iconoclastic theorist of the American cityscape. . . . A well-rounded, illuminating narrative . . . a vast wealth of entertaining anecdotes highlighting Jacobs at her best (and worst) . . . A significant, comprehensive biography of an irrepressible urbanist, author, and pioneering community activist." —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Kanigel turns Jacobs’s life into a fascinating narrative with an endearing, obstinate, brilliant protagonist. Readers familiar with Jacobs’s work will enjoy reading the behind-the-scenes anecdotes from her career . . . and those who are learning about her for the first time will want to immediately pick up one (or all seven) of the books she wrote.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.9 pounds
- Hardcover : 496 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0307961907
- ISBN-13 : 978-0307961907
- Dimensions : 6.6 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
- Publisher : Alfred A. Knopf; First Edition (September 20, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #617,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This book owes much to interviews with surviving family members and associates. Jane and her husband Bob had one of the most successful marriages I’ve ever read about. But she had a tough time in school with teachers who often seemed stupid to her, and she later refused to join the academic game, not even finishing the standard degrees of higher education. In line with the dogma she sometimes observed in academia, she refused all the many offers of honorary degrees later in her life. Yet within a year of the publication of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” her work was being taught in academia. It not only caught the professional and academic world by surprise, it had the ring of a new revealed truth. This famous book was a powerful articulation of the social failures of urban renewal, failures that were already being felt by other sensitive souls, people like the Episcopal priest William Kirk who in 1955 pointed her to the tragedy of the “projects” in East Harlem and the disappearance of street life.
Jane’s own neighborhood of Greenwich Village was the model of urban socio-economic diversity, at least for her. But for her nemesis, Robert Moses, it was just another slum to be torn down, like the tenements of East Harlem had been demolished. In a series of now legendary political battles, Jane Jacobs led the fight to keep the wrecking ball out of her part of New York City. Unassuming in person, and not at all charismatic, she nevertheless was a stupendous organizer and extraordinarily persuasive through the broad and deep scope of her analysis and examples, someone who politicians were forced to pay attention to.
Ironically, as a younger woman, she had been a WW II and cold war propagandist for the US government, though outspoken enough that she was investigated by the FBI during the McCarthy era. Then she became a writer for an architectural magazine that featured urban renewal, but a visit to Philadelphia in 1955 became a turning point for her. The renowned urban planner Edmund Bacon gave her the tour of his splendid new projects in Philadelphia, except that something was missing from his revitalized streets: people! Soon one thing led to another and before long she was on the warpath that marked the rest of her career.
Jane started giving talks that caught the eye of people like the famous cultural critic Lewis Mumford. Soon her magazine editor Douglas Haskell helped get her an appointment with Chadbourne Gilpatric at the Rockefeller Foundation, who agreed to give her a research and writing grant to flesh out her ideas in book form. Quickly she found a good editor, Jason Epstein at Doubleday, who became her life long friend, and she was on her way to stardom, including a visit to the White House.
Already in 1958 Jane had led the final fight to close Washington Square Park to traffic and succeeded (without any ill effects, traffic wise), in direct defiance of the legendary power broker Robert Moses. Next up in 1960 were the sidewalks of her own street, Hudson Street, that Moses wanted to slim down in order to widen the street for traffic. She immediately went into high gear and rallied the neighborhood to preserve life on the sidewalks. Yet only a year later Moses came back with a plan to level a good portion of her neighborhood. Once again she went into action and formed the “Committee to Save the West Village”, eventually convincing Mayor Wagner that Greenwich Village was no slum, using sound research in addition to politics.
Instead Jane led a long battle to get new 5 story walk up apartments that would fit seamlessly into the neighborhood. By 1969 her rock star status was confirmed by a “thunderous standing ovation” when she walked into meeting of the planning commission after the new Mayor, John Lindsay, backed her seemingly archaic yet life giving proposal. By that time she had long since led the battle, beginning in 1962, against Moses’ proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have followed the southern edge of Greenwich Village, cutting off the entire southern tip of Manhattan Island.
Then, seemingly out of the blue, Jane and family were off to Toronto for the rest of her life. Why did she leave her beloved Manhattan? Answer: the Vietnam War. It threatened to engulf her two sons, Jim and Ned, both of draft age. I myself remember, decades later, being struck at a college reunion by how many of my fellow male graduates arrived from Canada – they had left to escape the evils of an imperial war and had never come back. A religious person, I’d been saved by becoming a conscientious objector, yet that path was all but closed to many others.
Very quickly Jane Jacobs made her mark on Canada, helping to stop the Spadina Expressway and becoming a supportive presence behind a new, more organic kind of urban revitalization. A prime example was the Toronto neighborhood of St. Lawrence, formerly 56 acres of industrial wasteland, that become “the best example of a mixed-income, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, sensitively-scaled, densely-populated community ever built in the province” (p. 317).
More books followed, such as “The Economy of Cities” and “Cities and the Wealth of Nations”, championing new economic ideas like “import substitution”. Yet by the early 2000s the Reagan “greed is good” era had led to some very disturbing and malignant trends, such as escalating economic inequality and the reign of the neocons. Hence the prescient title of her final book, “Dark Age Ahead”, 2005.
Mind you, this was well before the financial crash of 2008 and the US election of Donald Trump in 2016. Public services in Toronto were deteriorating, housing was increasingly unaffordable with spreading homelessness, more families were under severe stress, business fraud was already rampant (think Enron), higher education was more about credentials than education, cars and suburbia had become overwhelmingly destructive of community, science itself was sometimes corrupt or clueless, taxes were regressive and inadequate, and much more. Yet with all this, she was looking for silver linings, something in the human spirit that would get us back on track. Thank you, Jane Jacobs and Robert Kanigel.