jane jacobs life and death of american cities pdf

Jane Jacobs Life And Death Of American Cities Pdf

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I n Donald Barthelme's short story "I Bought a Little City" , the narrator decides one day to purchase Galveston, Texas, where he then tears down some houses, shoots 6, dogs, and rearranges what remains into the shape of a giant Mona Lisa jigsaw puzzle visible only from the air. As with much of Barthelme's work, the premise seems so absurd that one can't help but shake it until a metaphor falls out, and here one might well assume that, in the words of the novelist Donald Antrim, "I Bought a Little City" is "a take on the role that a writer has in writing a story — playing god, in a certain way".

Goodreads helps you follow your favorite authors. Be the first to learn about new releases! Follow Author. Only prosperity has causes. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

The Death And Life Of Great American Cities Book Summary, by Jane Jacobs

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Download Free PDF. David Seamon. Download PDF. A short summary of this paper. Though her work has never been associated with phenomenology, I contend in this article that, in terms of method, focus, and discoveries, Jacobs Jacobs can fairly be described as a phenomenologist of urban place.

In addition, much of her argument parallels findings of space-syntax research, particularly her claim that short city blocks offer a permeable, multi-route pathway grid that contributes to sidewalk vitality and neighborhood robustness.

In all her work, she declared that cities and citiness play an integral, inescapable role in human life and in human history. If we ignore this central importance, we cripple the potential lived fullness and exuberance of the world. The reason for this was that in all sincerity I had been writing for Forum about how great various redevelopment plans were going to be. Then I began to see some of these things built. They weren't delightful, they weren't fine, and they were obviously never going to work right… I began to get this very uneasy feeling that what sounded logical in planning theory and what looked splendid on paper was not logical in real life at all, or at least in city real life, and not splendid at all when in use quoted in Lawrence , p.

On the other hand, she was busy identifying and carefully observing successful urban neighborhoods and districts with an animated, diverse street lifeparticularly her Greenwich Village neighborhood of Hudson Street. This mode of inductive observation and interpretation would eventually lead to her claim in Death and Life that her understanding of urbanity was grounded in what the city and urban experience actually are: a lived diversity of place that sustains personal and group identification and attachment.

I shall mainly be writing about common, ordinary things: for instance, what kinds of city streets are safe and what kinds are not….

In short, I shall be writing about how cities work in real life because this is the only way to learn what principles of planning and what practices in rebuilding can promote social and economic vitality in cities ibid. In every case, I have tried to test out what I saw or heard in one city or neighborhood against others, to find how relevant each city's or each place's lessons might be outside its own special case ibid.

These accounts of her method intimate a close parallel with two key features of phenomenological effort: first, allowing the thing-in this case, citiness-to reveal itself in the course of everyday, taken-for-granted life lifeworld, as it called by phenomenologists ; second, using what one sees in the lifeworld of the city as a starting point for understanding more general principles and structures that make the city what it essentially is Finlay , pp.

Any conceptual understanding of the city, said Jacobs, must be grounded in how the city works as a particular kind of place. If I have been inaccurate in observations or mistaken in inferences and conclusions, I hope these faults will be quickly corrected.

The point is, we need desperately to learn and to apply as much knowledge that is true and useful about cities as fast as possible ibid. In Death and Life, she pinpointed this urban reality as involving place regularity, attachment, and responsibility grounded in an environmental and human diversity supported by particular physical and spatial qualities. In this sense, Jacobs claimed that citiness is a unique people-place whole that can only unfold and thrive provided certain human and environmental elements and interconnections are present.

For example, in his review of Death and Life, sociologist Herbert Gans argued that the robust sidewalk and street life that Jacobs emphasized is only one contingent factor in urbanity, which is more correctly explained by social characteristics, especially class and cultural differences. Gans declared that only ethnic or working-class residents value Jacobs's diverse, sociable streets, whereas middle-class families, because of a different socio-economic situation, prefer anonymous, suburban enclaves also see Gans Gans , In contrast, Jacobs argued that any urban neighborhood sturdily sustaining street diversity and vitality has the power to draw and hold people, whatever their social, cultural, or economic background.

A Phenomenology of Urban PlaceThough published fifteen years before the first explicit phenomenology of place- geographer Edward Relph's Place and Placelessness , Death and Life can be interpreted as close kin to phenomenological explications of place Relph ;Casey ;Malpas Malpas , Malpas , Mugerauer ;Seamon ;Stefanovic These studies contend that, by its very nature, place offers a way to portray the experienced wholeness of people-in-world.

As a phenomenon always present in human life, place gathers worlds spatially and environmentally, marking out centers of human action, intention, and meaning that, in turn, contribute to the making of place. From this perspective, one can argue that place and, specifically, urban place, is the central phenomenon of Death and Life. Rather than arguing, like Gans, that the social and cultural environment calls out and establishes the physical environment, Jacobs recognized that robust urban neighborhoods simultaneously incorporate and shape an environmental fabric of taken-for-granted daily life.

In this sense, urban place for Jacobs is an integral, inescapable constituent of humanbeing-in-the-world. Similarly, Jacobs argued that a robust neighborhood of lived diversity and lively street life is integral to urbanity and founds the kind of place and lifeworld that, because of its vitality and singularity, draws residents, visitors, and other users who feel attachment and belonging for that place. As indicated earlier, Jacobs contended that the essential lived structure of robust urban places is a small-scaled functional and physical diversity that generates and is fed by what she called the street ballet-an exuberance of place and sidewalk life founded on the everyday comings and goings of many people carrying out their own ordinary needs, obligations, and activities.

Out of the many unpredictable individual human parts arises a greater environmental whole that includes a willingness to look out for and assist others. A lived geography invokes a lived community, which in turn sustains and protects a lived geography, the heart of which is a diverse street life:The streets constitute the public sphere where real civic life takes place.

Only in the streets, for example, can children learn responsibility in an adult world. Only in the streets do neighbors form these bonds of recognition that make for community.

In particular, the streets are necessary for that archetypal urban drama, the encounter between a relatively stable community and the stranger. Where this encounter with otherness is accomplished with safety and civility, there one has true urbanity.

Where the stranger is feared and shunned, the city begins to die Fishman, , p. More importantly, she came to see that this melding is founded on and contributes to four specific physical and spatial groundings: short blocks; a range in building types; a high concentration of people; and a mixture of primary uses-i. Physical and human dimensions of place are intertwined and interlocked in a place-grounded choreography.

Particularly relevant is phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty's notion of bodysubject-pre-reflective corporeal awareness expressed through action and typically in sync with and enmeshed in the physical world in which the action unfolds Merleau-Ponty, ;Seamon a. In relation to Jacobs's street ballet, a key theme is the taken-for-granted sensibility of body-subject to manifest in extended ways over time and space.

How, in other words, do the routine actions and behaviors of individuals intermingling regularly in a space transform that space into a place with a unique dynamic and character-what can be called, after Jacobs, place ballet Seamon Seamon , Seamon , a. Place ballets incorporate the interaction of individual bodily routines rooted in a particular environment, which often becomes an important place of interpersonal and communal exchange, meaning, and attachment, for example, a busy eatery, a well-used urban plaza, or an animated city neighborhood.

Also relevant to Jacobs's street ballet is space-syntax research Hillier, ;Hillier and Hansen, , which examines measurable, empirical connections between spatial structure and human movement, especially pedestrians traversing cities.

Though analytic and quantitative conceptually and methodologically, space syntax is relevant to environmental embodiment and street ballet because findings demonstrate that different pathway arrangements contribute to how individual moving bodies come together in bodily co-presence and co-awareness or stay spatially separated Seamon Seamon , Seamon , a. This work concludes that, traditionally, settlement pathways involved a small-grained, permeable block structure that provided many possible routes through a district.

The findings of space syntax researchers corroborate Jacobs's requirement of short blocks, which are integral to street ballet because they provide for intermingling pedestrian cross-use as well as potential street-front locations for both primary and secondary uses. She wrote:Long blocks… thwart the potential advantages that cities offer to incubation, experimentation, and many small or special enterprises, insofar as these depend upon drawing their customers or clients from among much larger cross-sections of passing public.

Long blocks also thwart the principles that if city mixtures of use are to be more than a fiction on maps, they must result in different people, bent on different purposes, appearing at different times, but using the same streets….

One could argue that there are significant differences between Jacobs's understanding of short blocks and the space-syntax emphasis on the spatial configuration of pathways. In integrating Jacobs and space syntax, perhaps the most useful perspective is to accept that pathway configuration is typically the primary engine for well-used streets but also realize that urban place always includes primary and secondary functions, range in building types, and adequate density.

In this sense, Jacobs's urban conception is an invaluable way to hold crucial human and environmental parts together and to understand how they interact and interpenetrate to sustain vibrant city neighborhoods and districts e.

Death and Life's Phenomenological Interlock: Interaction, Identity, Freedom, and RealizationIn Death and Life, Jacobs's multi-dimensioned understanding of human-immersion-in-urbanworld allows for a seamless connection to practice and policy. To see the intimate linkage among diversity, street ballet, and the four shapeable conditions is to know what planners and designers can do to kindle and sustain diversity and street ballet-i.

As Jacobs explained:In our American cities, we need all kinds of diversity, intricately mingled in mutual support. We need this so city life can work decently and constructively, and so the people of cities can sustain and further develop their society and civilization….

The main responsibility of city planning and design should be to developinsofar as public policy and action can do so-cities that are congenial places for this great range of unofficial plans, ideas and opportunities to flourish, along with the flourishing of the public enterprises. City districts will be economically and socially congenial places for diversity to generate itself and reach its best potential if the districts possess good mixtures of primary uses, frequent streets, a close-grained mingling of different ages in their buildings, and a high concentration of people ibid.

In other words, formal public structures presuppose and arise from a vibrant informal structure that is exuberant street ballet grounded in diversity that sustains and is sustained by the four conditions. Jacobs's argument offers a convincing commingling and folding over of that argument's various conceptual and real-world parts. In recognizing this compelling interconnectedness, one can identify several specific interrelationships and interlocks in Jacob's portrayal of citiness-what I label interaction, identity, freedom, realization, creation, and intensification Seamon , b.

In Jacobs's view, citiness is first of all a rich, diverse fabric of people and place interactions concentrated in the street ballet-the typical daily and weekly actions, events, and situations of residents, workers, visitors, and passersby who, in the course of lifeworld patterns, intermingle regularly in a singular urban place radiating a particular ambience, character, and style of human attachment.

In turn, this singular character of urban place evokes a sense of place identity, which in turn motivates participants to take responsibility and care for the urban place.

These people:profess an intense attachment to their street neighborhood. It is a big part of their life. They seem to think that their neighborhood is unique and irreplaceable in all the world and remarkably valuable in spite of its shortcomings. For Jacobs, place interaction and place identity are interdependent, with a lively street life facilitating neighborhood identification, which in turn enriches and further solidifies interaction. Also important for the ambience and love of urban place is the potential of that place to spur moments of freedom.

In other words, interaction and identity generate an unpredictable situation of expected and unexpected encounters and events that contribute in larger and smaller measure to the pleasure of being alive, particularly in relation to this particular street and this particular neighborhood. Much of what is most important, Kidder , p. We ought not to be reluctant to make this living collection of interdependent uses, this freedom, this life, more understandable for what it is, nor so unaware that we do not know what it is ibid.

In turn, place interaction, identity, and freedom coalesce to allow a realization of urban place itself. In other words, the unique synergism of human-beings-in-place combined with the physical ensemble of that place primary uses, short blocks, range of building types, and concentration of people transform a collection of buildings and streets into a singular urban place with a distinctive genius loci-a West Village, SoHo, Bloomsbury, or Back of the Yards.

The neighborhood's presence and character become as palpable and real as the human beings who know, encounter, and feel a sense of belonging for that place. Jacobs emphasized that we must better understand this uniqueness because it is one powerful engine for a neighborhood's vitality:What makes a city [neighborhood] magnetic, what can inject the gaiety, the wonder, the cheerful hurly-burly that make people want to come into the city and to linger there?

For magnetism is the crux of the problem. All [a neighborhood's] values are its byproducts. To create in it an atmosphere of urbanity and exuberance is not a frivolous aim Jacobs ; quoted in Allen , p.

Death and Life's Phenomenological Interlock: Creation and IntensificationJacobs, however, was not satisfied with a portrait of robust neighborhoods only as they are. More so, she worked to understand how robust neighborhoods come into being and how they fall into decline. Such place creation, she argued, is grounded first of all in the four environmental qualities, to each of which she devotes a chapter, identifying practical ways through policy and design whereby the quality might be strengthened and thereby intensify place interaction, identity, freedom, and realization.

From a phenomenological perspective, one cannot emphasize enough Jacobs's acknowledgement of the central importance of physical and spatial qualities for generating and strengthening a successful urban place. She did not claim that the four shapeable urban qualities determine the human world; rather, her perspective intimates the central phenomenological claim that people and world are always already given together through place, of which an integral part is materiality, spatiality, and environmental embodiment.

The spatial configuration of streets, for example, contributes to where and how far users move through a neighborhood, just as a diverse mixture of small-scaled primary and secondary uses provide a rich weave of destinations that in turn stimulate a rich weave of pedestrian movements, situations, and encounters.

Jacobs's rendition of successful urban place is most remarkable because of the magical but reasonable way in which all the human and environmental parts belong and have a place Seamon , pp. Jacobs would gage progressive or regressive change on the basis of whether a city neighborhood continues to evoke a diverse street ballet, a unique ambience, and an unshakable place attachment and belonging for its residents and users.

Though mostly gentrified and hugely expensive today, Jacobs's Hudson Street still incorporates much of its sidewalk diversity and vitality. Gratz , p. In this regard, she quotes Jacobs, who explained that -too many people think the most important thing about anything is its size instead of what's happening. In this sense, Jacobs's urban vision remains alive and very much possible. First of all, Jacobs brilliantly excavated the nature of citiness and urban experience in her implicit recognition that people and world are always together existentially and that an integral dimension of world is its physical, manipulable aspects grounded in the four conditions that intertwine among themselves and with the people who are in their midst, whether insiders or outsiders.

Rereading: The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs

The book is a critique of s urban planning policy, which it holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Jacobs was a critic of " rationalist " planners of the s and s, especially Robert Moses , as well as the earlier work of Le Corbusier. She argued that modernist urban planning overlooked and oversimplified the complexity of human lives in diverse communities. She opposed large-scale urban renewal programs that affected entire neighborhoods and built freeways through inner cities. She instead advocated for dense mixed-use development and walkable streets, with the "eyes on the street" of passers-by helping to maintain public order. Jacobs begins the work with the blunt statement that: "This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding.


Jane Jacobs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Toronto. In addition to The Death and Life of Great. American Cities, she is the author of Cities.


The Death and Life of Great American Cities

To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up.

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Look Inside. Sep 13, Minutes Buy. 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 , 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.

Or why one public park can attract diverse groups of families and citizens year-round while a similar park incubates nothing but drug abuse and crime? 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 , become the standard against which all … After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in. Or what factors lead to gentrification and the eventual self-destruction of what initially made a neighborhood desirable? Jane Jacobs was the legendary author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a work that has never gone out of print and that has transformed the disciplines of urban planning and city architecture.

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. 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 , 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.


Jane Jacobs. VINTAGE BOOKS IJ rights resen'cd uncler Inlem tional and Pan-American Copy rrght COII:cntions. .the intimate and casual life of cities.


Jane Jacobs und die Zukunft der Stadt. Rezension von Ronald Kunze - RaumPlanung. Rezension Rainer Bohne - PlanerIn. Contemporary Perspectives on Jane Jacobs.

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