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The Death and Life of Great American Cities

by

The Death and Life of Great American Cities Cover

 

Staff Pick

Ever wonder why we have suburbs? Or why we wanted them in the first place? What about the lovely ideal of the Parisian street lined with cafes and shops? Why don't we have more of those? Or would we want them at all? Then read this! If you live in, near, or purposely far from a city, you will appreciate and enjoy this book. Jane Jacobs's now classic explication of American cities offers a fascinating analysis of our unique, iconic, and often dysfunctional urban landscape.
Recommended by Emily, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured. In prose of outstanding immediacy. Jane Jacobs writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighborhood, and what function it serves within the larger organism of the city; about why some neighborhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She writes about the salutary role of funeral parlors and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too little diversity.

Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs's monumental work provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.

Review:

"Jane Jacobs has become more than a person. She is an adjective." Toronto Life

Review:

"The liveliness of her mind is a joy to behold, as is her common sense and a prose style uncluttered with the litter of empty jargon...her book is well and timely met." The Globe and Mail

Review:

"This is vintage Jane Jacobs: quietly authoritative, profoundly accessible, and disdainful of the blinkered viewpoints of academic theorists." The Calgary Herald

Review:

"The most refreshing, provocative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense." Harrison Salisbury, The New York Times

Review:

"One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city...a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious — it is the eye and the heart — but it has givien us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city." William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man

Synopsis:

US

About the Author

Jane Jacobs was born on May 4, 1916, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Her father was a physician and her mother taught school and worked as a nurse. After high school and a year spent as a reporter on the Scranton Tribune, Jacobs went to New York, where she found a succession of jobs as a stenographer and wrote free-lance articles about the city's many working districts, which fascinated her. In 1952, after a number of writing and editing jobs ranging in subject matter from metallurgy to a geography of the United States for foreign readers, she became an associate editor of Architectural Forum. She was becoming increasingly skeptical of conventional planning beliefs as she noticed that the city rebuilding projects she was assigned to write about seemed neither safe, interesting, alive, nor good economics for cities once the projects were built and in operation. She gave a speech to that effect at Harvard in 1956, and this led to an article in Fortune magazine entitled "Downtown Is for People," which in turn led to The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The book was published in 1961 and produced permanent changes in the debate over urban renewal and the future of cities.

In opposition to the kind of large-scale, bulldozing government intervention in city planning associated with Robert Moses and with federal slum-clearing projects, Jacobs proposed a renewal from the ground up, emphasizing mixed use rather than exclusively residential or commercial districts, and drawing on the human vitality of existing neighborhoods: "Vital cities have marvelous innate abilities for understanding, communicating, contriving, and inventing what is required to combat their difficulties....Lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves." Although Jacobs's lack of experience as either architect or city planner drew criticism, The Death and Life of Great American Cities was quickly recognized as one of the most original and powerfully argued books of its day. It was variously praised as "the most refreshing, provocative, stimulating, and exciting study of this greatest of our problems of living which I have seen" (Harrison Salisbury) and "a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city" (William H. Whyte).

Jacobs is married to an architect, who she says taught her enough to become an architectural writer. They have two sons and a daughter. In 1968 they moved to Toronto, where Jacobs has often assumed an activist role in matters relating to development and has been an adviser on the reform of the city's planning and housing policies. She was a leader in the successful campaign to block construction of a major expressway on the grounds that it would do more harm than good, and helped prevent the demolition of an entire neighborhood downtown. She has been a Canadian citizen since 1974. Her writings include The Economy of Cities (1969); The Question of Separatism (1980), a consideration of the issue of sovereignty for Quebec; Cities and the Wealth of Nations (1984), a major study of the importance of cities and their regions in the global economy; and her most recent book, Systems of Survival (1993).

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679741954
Author:
Jacobs, Jane
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Location:
New York :
Subject:
Planning
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Government and political science
Subject:
Sociology - Urban
Subject:
City Planning & Urban Development
Subject:
City planning
Subject:
Urban policy
Subject:
City and state planning and urban development
Subject:
Urban renewal
Subject:
Urban policy -- United States.
Subject:
Urban renewal -- United States.
Subject:
City planning -- United States.
Subject:
Architecture-Urban Planning
Subject:
urban planning;cities;sociology;architecture;non-fiction;urbanism;history;city planning;planning;urban studies;urban;politics;economics;urban design;urban renewal;culture;city;community;design;new york city;classic;social science;urban history;geography;n
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Vintage Books ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Series Volume:
85
Publication Date:
19921231
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
8 x 5.2 x 0.97 in 0.75 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Cityscape
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Urban Planning
Arts and Entertainment » Photography » Featured Titles
Featured Titles » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » General

The Death and Life of Great American Cities New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$16.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780679741954 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Ever wonder why we have suburbs? Or why we wanted them in the first place? What about the lovely ideal of the Parisian street lined with cafes and shops? Why don't we have more of those? Or would we want them at all? Then read this! If you live in, near, or purposely far from a city, you will appreciate and enjoy this book. Jane Jacobs's now classic explication of American cities offers a fascinating analysis of our unique, iconic, and often dysfunctional urban landscape.

"Review" by , "Jane Jacobs has become more than a person. She is an adjective."
"Review" by , "The liveliness of her mind is a joy to behold, as is her common sense and a prose style uncluttered with the litter of empty jargon...her book is well and timely met."
"Review" by , "This is vintage Jane Jacobs: quietly authoritative, profoundly accessible, and disdainful of the blinkered viewpoints of academic theorists."
"Review" by , "The most refreshing, provocative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense."
"Review" by , "One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city...a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious — it is the eye and the heart — but it has givien us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city."
"Synopsis" by , US
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