Why this book?
This classic and hugely influential book, published in 1961, decries the soulless urban planning of the 1950s while delineating what makes a city healthy, vibrant, and safe. But that’s not why I love this book. I love it for Jacob’s vivid descriptions of New York’s West Village, where she lived; her appreciation for the ordinary—butcher shops, delis, funeral homes; her passion; and her celebration of diversity and life.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
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…