06 April 2006

Jane Jacobs

The other day, I found myself ranting about Jane Jacobs to some folks who were talking about making the city better by planting more trees. I like trees as much as the next guy, but I don't see them as the key to a great city. Jane Jacobs will tell you, the key is mixed use zoning, because people like to live near where they work, they like to shop near where they live, and they like to go where there are other people.

If you don't know who Jane Jacobs is, you ought to, and the 2 Blowhards offer a a terrific introduction. And if you do know who Jane Jacobs is, then you will definitely enjoy the JJ quotes, as well as Michael Blowhard's comments.

I'm forever tinkering with, and never quite finishing, a posting about urban renewal. Major themes: what a horror it was, and how underknown it is today. I'm not entirely sure of my judgment in the matter, but I suspect that urban renewal may have been a self-inflicted American disaster on a par with the Vietnam War. Before laughing at me, consider the tally. Thousands of communities were destroyed. Millions of people were forcibly relocated. So many of these people were black that black people joked about urban renewal, bitterly calling it "Negro removal." Tens of billions of dollars were spent in an almost entirely destructive fashion. We did this to ourselves—can you imagine? Anyway, we're still living in the shadow of this gigantic mistake, just as we're still living in the shadow of Vietnam.
So either way, click the link.

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