Jane Jacobs Overkill

Jane Jacobs, often viewed as the patron saint of the progressive urban planning world, maybe be given too much credit, according to this piece from Andrew Manshel.
June 30, 2010, 8am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Her views have now been broadly adopted and it is conventional wisdom in planning circles that participatory neighborhood planning is best, that preservation of old buildings is essential, and that in cities the car is bad. But Jacobs had a tendency toward sweeping conclusions based on anecdotal information, and some of them were overblown and/or oblivious to the facts. Perhaps most graphically, Jacobs predicted that the grand arts center planned for the Upper West Side of Manhattan would fail. But Lincoln Center turned out to be a great success-igniting the revitalization of the entire neighborhood.

More revealingly, the Greenwich Village she held out as a model for city life has become some of the highest-priced real estate in New York City-it's no longer the diverse, yeasty enclave she treasured. Ultimately, many of the policies she advocated blocked real-estate development-causing prices of existing housing stock to rise and pricing out all but the wealthiest residents."

Manshel suggests that more attention be given to the ideas of William H. Whyte.

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Published on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 in The Wall Street Journal
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