mercredi 6 juillet 2011

Observations of Chapters 1-3 of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities"

In reading the first three chapters of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” the author Jane Jacobs provides clear examples of why 1960 planning principles and goals were incorrect. She states bluntly in the first page that her whole book will be an attack upon planning policies and that she will study in detail how a city works in real life. She states that this method “is the only way to learn what principles of planning and what practices in rebuilding can promote social and economic vitality.”

The biggest observation was that Jane Jacobs touches upon issues in planning that are still relevant today. The safety on sidewalks concept, where strangers and residents can go about their day in peace knowing that there are 'eyes' on the street is still an essential component today for effective city streets. The author further develops her argument by explaining that these 'eyes' can be stores, bars, or restaurants in addition to the physical eyes of the residents or visitors. The businesses further increase the interaction between people on the sidewalks which prevents the “togetherness” or nothing issues raised in chapter 3. Jane jacob's claim that when social contact is limited to everything or nothing and when planning and projects strive to solve this problem of contact, increased segregation and racism will be the outcome. From history we know she is right, since in the late 1960's, the race riots took place in these such neighborhoods throughout the US.

The author describes in chapter's 2 and 3, that over the passage of time, higher income transient populations will be attracted to the vibrant, functional city neighborhoods. These high rent tenants ruin the sense of safety and contact that once existed on the sidewalks by forcing lower rent tenants out of the area and by not having any contact with the street.

Another interesting point is the amount of case examples the author uses to prove her point about the clear demarcation between private and public spaces.  

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