Urban Fold

Jane Jacobs' Complex Legacy

On the occasion of Jane Jacobs' birthday (and the international "Jane's Walks" held in her honor), Stephen Wickens muses on Jane Jacobs' legacy and the ways in which her ideas are used -- and misused -- in an age of superficial mass media.

Wickens considers the extent to which Jacobs' ideas are understood by contemporary planners and politicians. Part of the problem, he points out, is that

"she [will] never be widely understood, in part because news media...increasingly [opt] for simplistic explanations [and t]here are more intertwined concepts in The Death and Life than any newspaper story can outline.

But page 150...lists four conditions for any part of a city to generate 'exuberant diversity': that districts have a mix of primary uses; that most blocks be short; that buildings be of various ages; and that the area have sufficient density. It was indispensable that these areas accommodate various levels of income and commercial rents.

But simply to list the factors without the examples and complicated dynamics found in the book is almost to miss the point."

Full Story: Jane Jacobs: Honoured in the breach

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