1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2012
A great classic. A must read for anyone who wishes to understand how our cities operate and the small things that affect it. The issues described are not just applicable to America (by which the author means from the USA) but for any city now.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a breathtaking book, a keynote publication on urban geography and sociology. It is as fresh today as it was when it was written in 1961. Jacobs wrote this in a forthright, no-nonsense style taking a very liberal, perhaps neo-marxist stance in her critique of (mainly American) examples of poor urban planning, leading to the marginalisation and disenfranchisement of disaffected communities. She looks the arrogance and banality of urban planning and a strong theme of social justice (or injustice!) runs through the book. This book set the scene for important later texts such as Harvey 1973 Social Justice and the City. This is a must-read book.
2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2009
I was introduced to this book in about 1970 by a girl who'd completed an M.A. on England's first council estate. Both she, and this book, impressed me. I now have, thanks to Amazon, a plump 'Modern Library' Edition, thicker but of similar dimensions to that paperback. It was first published in 1961 as a single volume; but 'portions' were published before this. So this dates to the late 1950s/ 1960.
Jacobs was not popular with architects; I had an architect's journal of the relevant date which snipes at her.
What suddenly occurred to me and causes me puzzlement now is the fact that some towns known to me, in England - e.g. Reading, Blackburn, Bristol I think, parts of London - had their Victorian guts removed AFTER 1960 - typically in the 1970s. (Test yourself here: if you're old enough, and took an interest, when did rebuilding take place? If not, check the history of a town known to you. And I was struck by the fact that nothing at all, not one thing, remained of Atlanta, Georgia, from the 19th century). Suggesting, or proving, that she was ignored, or at least that greater powers defeated her.
IF Jane Jacobs was so influential, how come a lot of what she preached against, took place long after her book? Let me suggest a possibility: maybe Jane Jacobs knew perfectly well - after all, her husband was an architect - that fortunes could be made by demolishing old housing and filling the land with apartments, malls, and the rest. Nothing mysterious about that. And trams, trains, buses, transit schemes could be elbowed out in favour of more profitable private transport. Why not write about this, and how, in her view, cities could be remodelled or developed or left or improved in optimum ways? In fact this book is descriptive, but low on analysis. Compare Chomsky: he wrote on the Vietnam War. How many American generals or airforce people were condemned as war criminals? What actually happened? The answer is - nothing. Even utter ***^ like Kissinger gets kid glove treatment. Maybe Jane Jacobs is in the same mode as regards towns? Could she have been a decoy, an irrelevance, trotted out to pretend something is being done, peoples' deep concerns are being addressed? Someone, please, show I'm wrong.