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Making Room for Skyscrapers in the Jane Jacobs Debate

A Market Urbanism op-ed makes the case for high-rise neighborhoods as an integral part of successful cities—even if some Jacobs fans tend to overlook the benefits of such parts of town.
May 4, 2015, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Scott Beyer commemorates the birthday of Jane Jacobs by looking for a new middle ground between the two political ideologies that find support from Jacobs's writings.

First on the let-leaning side of Jane Jacobs's supporters, which "emphasize her work on urban form," according to Beyer. The right-leaning side, however,"[adores] the woman who loathed central planning and land use controls, and who thought that the 'organized complexity' of city life was best tackled through organic growth. 

Despite the two ideologies that have risen from Jacobs's writings, Beyer argues that the left, represented by New Urbanists like Andres Duany, have gotten more attention.

"If you think today of what someone means when referring to a 'Jane Jacobs-style neighborhood,' you picture a medium-density area with historic character, pocket parks, and niche coffee shops—places like Greenwich Village, The Haight in San Francisco, Capitol Hill in Seattle, Wicker Park in Chicago, or Boston’s Back Bay. Meantime, large-scale neighborhoods—such as a typical downtown business district—are considered antithetical to Jacobian urbanism, and are frowned upon by planners."

Then Beyer takes the debate to a new place, to make a case for the value of high-rise neighborhoods, with a case study provided by the Brickell neighborhood in Miami. 

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Published on Monday, May 4, 2015 in Market Urbanism
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