May 23, 2004

“Sidewalks and Storefronts and the Daily Hum of Vibrant Neighborhoods’

"Too many streets are designed with cars, not people, in mind. Too many buildings are designed as if nothing around them matters," the San Francisco Chronicle writes in an article about the philosophy of Jane Jacobs, author of the seminal The Death and Life of Great American Cities more than 40 years ago.

That book "challenged the accepted wisdom of the era that downtown ills could best be cured by bulldozing 'blight' and replacing it with orderly rows of 'urban renewal.'" (Just look at Boston's sterile City Hall Plaza to see what a bad idea THAT was.)

"Jacobs rallied the opposition with such proclamation as 'lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration.' But the most lasting part of her critique was assembled with irrefutable patience: Jacobs looked at sidewalks and storefronts and the daily hum of vibrant neighborhoods to see what made them come alive. "

Jacobs argued as far back as the '50s that simply creating areas for pedestrians won't bring life to downtown. The Chronicle quotes an article she wrote for Fortune magazine in 1958: "The whole point is to make the streets more surprising, more compact, more variegated, and busier than before -- not less so."

No comments:

Post a Comment