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Re: [NewMobilityCafe] "Reinventing" Dedication – Mrs. Jane Jacobs: Activist, author, citizen, example

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  • Richard Layman
    Jane Jacobs work is vrey powerful. Steve Belmont s _Cities in Full_ extends her work by looking at why recentralization of commerce, housing, and transit is
    Message 1 of 3 , May 31, 2007
      Jane Jacobs' work is vrey powerful.  Steve Belmont's _Cities in Full_ extends her work by looking at why recentralization of commerce, housing, and transit is key, looks at the metropolitan scale, and heavily relies on TCRP Report 16 (Transit and Urban Form) to show the link between urban form, vital places, and successful transit.
      IMO, _Cities in Full_ is one of the best books in planning since _Death and Life_.

      From: Chris Bradshaw

      [Note: These and other comments, critical and other, received during this peer review process in support of the cycle of reports in the Reinventing transport in cities: series are being added on a selective basis to the I think important closing annex of the first volume in this series – i.e., in the case the one that is dedicated to Mrs. Jacobs and which bears the title “New Mobility in Paris: Active agenda or a sustainable city”. Thanks Chris for this thoughtful commentary and welcome to the rest of you to do the same. Eric Britton}
      I would add something about what her legacy is re: 'new mobility.'
      I re-read _The Life and Death of Great American Cities_ about three years ago.  It is very powerful, and represented over the following 40 years until her death an amazing change of direction for city planning -- without her prescribing something to replace the then predominant regime in any detail.
      She had an understanding of how cities -- and especially the districts and neighbourhoods that made up cities -- worked as economic units.  And how the streets linked these economic units.  Her next two books expanded this theme.
      In her private life, she protested city initiatives, in both NYC and Toronto, to expand roadways to accommodate longer and often frivilous transport at the expense of the local trips and the functioning of sidewalks and business streets.  She mostly spoke for the value to the global economy of these walkable areas.
      To me, "eyes on the street" was the most significant phrase from that book, because it explains why our cities, sadly, during her life have gotten less and less safe.  Distance deadens connections between people and a feeling in a stake in the vitality and civility of any one street or park.  It also marked the end of the era of orienting our homes and businesses toward the street as the literal 'river of life,' from which air-conditioning, energy-conserving insulation, and the media of TV, radio, Internet, and recorded distractions now insulate us.  The remote-control garage door now is the main street-facing feature of each residential unit and each office building and shopping mall, suggesting that those who enter never are exposed to the street on which the units exist.
      She surely reminded us that walking IS life, but that life is as economic as it is social.  In an age where the environment is now a lot more important (interestingly, Rachel Carson wrote _Silent Spring_ at about the same time as Jacobs wrote, _The Death and ..._), her advocacy for walkable spaces is just as apt and important.
      Chris Bradshaw

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