Why this book?
You simply cannot understand the city without understanding the society that brings it to life. Over six decades ago, Jane Jacobs upended the professions that governed, built, and increasingly destroyed cities by describing how cities do not thrive on drawing boards, but only as lived and altered by actual citizens. Her work is at once a manifesto against the status quo, a vivid description of the microcosm of urban life, and a manual for how to improve cities. Jacobs really opened my eyes to cities as systems of ‘organized complexity,’ essentially constantly re-materializing reflections of the many daily wishes and experiences of urban societies. While Jacobs laid the foundation of modern urban science with this statement, we still struggle to understand, accommodate, and leverage her desired urban complexity today.
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…