34. Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs in and out

A break from chronology to celebrate Jane Jacobs, whose centennial birthday was celebrated by a Google Doodle and by various public figures and commentators on various design forums including personal favorites Greater Greater Washington (local to DC), City Lab and many others. I never made it through her work, only through summaries and synopses and analyses. Her landmark book The Death and Life of Great American Cities came out in 1961 [My go to book for New York urbanism is The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill from 1964]. Her work and theories were rarely cited by my architecture studio critics, and some studios actively ignored ideas that she espoused. This omission usually meant that these projects were harder to talk about outside of architecture school, to friends and family. Jacobs wrote “about common, ordinary things” which fifty years later were still hard to bring up in architecture school.

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