Jane Jacobs, author of urban planning classic

Jane Jacobs, author of urban planning classic

NEW YORK – Jane Jacobs (89), author and community activist of singular influence whose classic ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’ transformed ideas about urban planning, died on Tuesday.

A US native, Jacobs lived for many years in New York before moving to Toronto in the late 1960s. She and her husband, architect Robert Jacobs Jr, were unhappy their taxes were supporting the Vietnam War and they eventually made Canada their permanent home.Her impact transcended borders.Basing her findings on deep, eclectic reading and firsthand observation, Jacobs challenged assumptions she believed damaged modern cities – that neighbourhoods should be isolated from each other, that an empty street was safer than a crowded one, that the car represented progress over the pedestrian.Her priorities were for integrated, manageable communities, for diversity of people, transportation, architecture and commerce.She also believed that economies need to be self-sustaining and self-renewing, relying on local initiative instead of centralised bureaucracies.Jacobs advocated density and mixed use in communities, staunchly opposed large highways and warned of urban sprawl.’Death and Life’, published in 1961, evolved from opposing the standards of the time to becoming a standard itself.It was taught in urban studies classes throughout North America.City planners in New York and Toronto were among those who cited its importance.Jacobs also received a number of prizes.”Jane Jacobs will be remembered as one of the great urban thinkers of our time,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said in a statement.”Her contributions and insights have forever changed the way North American cities are developed.”Neil Thomlinson, associate professor of city politics at Ryerson University, said: “Until she came along, the planning industry was just very technocratic and not about people,” Thomlinson said.”I think you’d be hard pressed to go anywhere (now) where people are talking about the development of large urban centres and not see her influence.”On May 9 1996, Jacobs was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.”Her seminal writings and thought-provoking commentaries on urban development have had a tremendous effect on city dwellers, planners and architects,” her citation on the Order of Canada Web site states.”By stimulating discussion, change and action, she has helped to make Canadian city streets and neighbourhoods vibrant, liveable and workable for all.”In a 2001 interview for Reason magazine, she spoke about the distinctive nature each city should possess.”It should be like itself.Every city has differences, from its history, from its site, and so on.These are important,” she said.”One of the most dismal things is when you go to a city and it’s like 12 others you’ve seen.That’s not interesting, and it’s not really truthful.”- Nampa-ReutersShe and her husband, architect Robert Jacobs Jr, were unhappy their taxes were supporting the Vietnam War and they eventually made Canada their permanent home.Her impact transcended borders.Basing her findings on deep, eclectic reading and firsthand observation, Jacobs challenged assumptions she believed damaged modern cities – that neighbourhoods should be isolated from each other, that an empty street was safer than a crowded one, that the car represented progress over the pedestrian.Her priorities were for integrated, manageable communities, for diversity of people, transportation, architecture and commerce.She also believed that economies need to be self-sustaining and self-renewing, relying on local initiative instead of centralised bureaucracies.Jacobs advocated density and mixed use in communities, staunchly opposed large highways and warned of urban sprawl.’Death and Life’, published in 1961, evolved from opposing the standards of the time to becoming a standard itself.It was taught in urban studies classes throughout North America.City planners in New York and Toronto were among those who cited its importance.Jacobs also received a number of prizes.”Jane Jacobs will be remembered as one of the great urban thinkers of our time,” Toronto Mayor David Miller said in a statement.”Her contributions and insights have forever changed the way North American cities are developed.”Neil Thomlinson, associate professor of city politics at Ryerson University, said: “Until she came along, the planning industry was just very technocratic and not about people,” Thomlinson said.”I think you’d be hard pressed to go anywhere (now) where people are talking about the development of large urban centres and not see her influence.”On May 9 1996, Jacobs was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.”Her seminal writings and thought-provoking commentaries on urban development have had a tremendous effect on city dwellers, planners and architects,” her citation on the Order of Canada Web site states.”By stimulating discussion, change and action, she has helped to make Canadian city streets and neighbourhoods vibrant, liveable and workable for all.”In a 2001 interview for Reason magazine, she spoke about the distinctive nature each city should possess.”It should be like itself.Every city has differences, from its history, from its site, and so on.These are important,” she said.”One of the most dismal things is when you go to a city and it’s like 12 others you’ve seen.That’s not interesting, and it’s not really truthful.”- Nampa-Reuters

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