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