Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Jane Jacobs Changed the Face of American Cities

Students need to know about a woman who is considered by many to be the most influential person in helping shape the growth of cities in North America.

Jane Jacobs (right) was an American-born Canadian urbanist, writer and activist. She is best known for her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) (left), a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States. The book has been credited with reaching beyond planning issues to influence the spirit of the times.

Along with her well-known printed works, Jacobs is equally well known for organizing grass-roots efforts to block urban-renewal projects that would have destroyed local neighborhoods. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, and after moving to Canada in 1968, equally influential in canceling the Spadina Expressway and the associated network of highways under construction.

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