Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Jane Jacobs’ 100th Birthday
The sorts of places she loved tend not to stay the way they are. Places with good fundamentals -- such as a good location near appealing jobs -- get gentrified. So she was a bit of a hipster-type; she wanted to discover a nice place before everyone else came along, made it popular, and ruined it.
Happy Mother’s Day to The Best Mom Ever
Her later books--The Economy of Cities and Cities and the Wealth of Nations--are also still available, still useful, but somewhat less focused that that first thunderbolt of a book. One of the great thinkers about urban issues in the last half of the 20th century. (For a contrast, and as an example of the sort of thinking she was arguing against, read some Lewis Mumford, such as The Culture of Cities.)
I agreed 100% with her sentiment against urban renewal. It destroyed some great neighborhoods in my hometown and the displaced people ended up in planned (but very poorly planned) developments that were practically designed to become slums. And this was in a small city, not a debacle like Cabrini Green in Chicago. But I see modern planners use the same tools (like eminent domain) to displace people in the name of revitalization instead of renewal. Don't get me wrong, the resulting hipster neighborhood is much more appealing to me than a freeway or brutalist office buildings, but the effect on former residents is probably the same.
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