In this classic text, Jane Jacobs set out to produce an attack on current city planning and rebuilding and to introduce new principles by which these should be governed. The result is one of the most stimulating books on cities ever written.
Throughout the post-war period, planners temperamentally unsympathetic to cities have been let loose on our urban environment. Inspired by the ideals of the Garden City or Le Corbusier's Radiant City, they have dreamt up ambitious projects based on self-contained neighbourhoods, super-blocks, rigid 'scientific' plans and endless acres of grass. Yet they seldom stop to look at what actually works on the ground. The real vitality of cities, argues Jacobs, lies in their diversity, architectural variety, teeming street life and human scale. It is only when we appreciate such fundamental realities that we can hope to create cities that are safe, interesting and economically viable, as well as places that people want to live in.
Jane Jacobs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1916, and now lives in Toronto, Canada. She is also the author of The Economy of Cities, The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and Systems of Survival. She died in 2006.
1: Introduction Part One: The Peculiar Nature of Cities 2: The uses of sidewalks: safety 3: The uses of sidewalks: contact 4: The uses of sidewalks: assimilating children 5: The uses of neighbourhood parks 6: The uses of city neighbourhoods Part Two: The Conditions for City Diversity 7: The generators of diversity 8: The need for mixed primary uses 9: The need for small blocks 10: The need for aged buildings 11: The need for concentration 12: Some myths about diversity Part Three: Forces of Decline and Regeneration 13: The self-destruction of diversity 14: The curse of border vacuums 15: Unslumming and slumming 16: Gradual money and cataclysmic money Part Four: Different Tactics 17: Subsidizing dwellings 18: Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles 19: Visual order: its limitations and possibilities 20: Salvaging projects 21: Governing and planning districts 22: The kind of problem a city is