The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a 1961 book by writer and activist Jane Jacobs. The book is a critique of 20th century urban planning policy, which it says was responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Going against the common wisdom of the age, deemed a combination of the Radiant City, Garden city, and City Beautiful movements, it proposes new ideas that it says would ensure organic vibrancy in urban America.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized
much of urban planning in this century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961,
become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured. In prose of outstanding immediacy, Jane Jacobs
writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighborhood, and what function it serves within the
larger organism of the city; about why some neighborhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She
writes about the salutary role of funeral parlors and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too
little diversity. Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs’s monumental work provides an
essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.
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