Jane Jacobs' Sidewalk Ballet, Gone Forever in New York City?

Alex Marshall discusses whether Jane Jacobs' famous "Sidewalk Ballet" is dead on the streets of New York City.
ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock

In a recent piece on Governing, Alex Marshall discusses whether Jane Jacobs' intricate sidewalk ballet from her work, The Death and Life of American Cities, still exists in American cities today. This sidewalk ballet entails leaving keys with shopkeepers, children playing in the streets, and non-parent adults disciplining said children—all of the aspects that entail causal, public trust and contact.

Marshall partially attributes this to the decline of local businesses and subsequent emergence of big box stores, "in the 1990s, Mayor David Dinkins and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani spearheaded changes in the zoning and other codes that made it easier to bring in big stores. These places are often cheaper, but they are less personal."

In addition, Marshall also suggests the emergence of Jacobs' small, high-priced, "elevator apartments," "whose residents slip in, disappear and don’t participate in the life of the streets. Elevator apartments are simply a lot more common now."

Marshall does suggest that although this sidewalk ballet is declining, it may not disappear altogether.

Full Story: The Death or Life of a Sidewalk Ballet


Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95
building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
Wood necklace with city map

City Necklaces

These sweet pendants are engraved on a cedar charm with a mini map of selected cities. The perfect gift for friends and family or yourself!