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Jane Jacobs born 100 years ago today

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2016

Jane Jacobs Google Doodle

Jane Jacobs, journalist, activist, and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (one of my favorite books of all time), was born 100 years ago today. Curbed has a big collection of stories in celebration and Vox also has an appreciation of her career.

When Jane Jacobs published The Death and Life of Great American Cities in 1961, she was a lone voice with no credentials speaking up against the most powerful ideas in urban planning. Fifty-five years later, on Jacobs’ 100th birthday (honored in today’s Google Doodle), urban dwellers are all living in her vision of the great American city.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities was a reaction to urban planning movements that wanted to clear entire city blocks and rebuild them. Jacobs argued this ignored everything that made cities great: the mixture of shops, offices, and housing that brought people together to live their lives. And her vision triumphed.

Fun and sorta weird fact: neither The Death and Life of Great American Cities or Robert Caro’s The Power Broker (about Jacobs’ foe Robert Moses) is available in ebook format.

Update: From an interview with Jacobs included in Jane Jacobs: The Last Interview and Other Conversations:

If I were running a school, I’d have one standing assignment that would begin in the first grade and go on all through school, every week: that each child should bring in something said by an authority — it could be by the teacher, or something they see in print, but something that they don’t agree with — and refute it.

BTW, I started the audiobook version of The Power Broker today and it is already so good. (via brainpickings)