Jane Jacobs and the Downfall of Planning

Is urban planning losing its relevance as a profession? Some say yes. In this essay from Places, Thomas Campanella suggests that the roots of this fall from grace lie in the era of Jane Jacobs.

Campanella cites "[a] swelling perception, especially among young scholars and practitioners, that planning is a diffuse and ineffective field, and that it has been largely unsuccessful over the last half century at its own game: bringing about more just, sustainable, healthful, efficient and beautiful cities and regions. It was there because of a looming sense that planners in America lack the agency or authority to turn idealism into reality, that planning has neither the prestige nor the street cred to effect real change.

To understand the roots of this sense of impotence requires us to dial back to the great cultural shift that occurred in planning beginning in the 1960s. The seeds of discontent sown then brought forth new and needed growth, which nonetheless choked out three vital aspects of the profession - its disciplinary identity, professional authority and visionary capacity."

he suggests that looking at the legacy of Jane Jacobs helps to show how in some ways the profession of urban planning has been diminished in the eyes of the public.

Full Story: Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of American Planning


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