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The Death and Life of Great American Cities Paperback – Dec 1 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1REV edition (Dec 1 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067974195X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679741954
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The most refreshing, provacative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense."—Harrison Salisbury, The New York Times"One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city... a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious—it is the eye and the heart—but it has given us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city."—William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man

About the Author

Jane Jacobs was the legendary author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a work that has never gone out of print and that has transformed the disciplines of urban planning and city architecture. Her other major works include The Economy of Cities, Systems of Survival, The Nature of Economies and Dark Age Ahead. She died in 2006.

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Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Streets in cities serve many purposes besides carrying vehicles, and city sidewalks-the pedestrian parts of the streets-serve many purposes besides carrying pedestrians. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Stehle on July 13 2004
Format: Paperback
When one begins to talk about city planning and urban land use, the name Jane Jacobs almost always comes up in the conversation. Jacobs is without question the leading scholar attacking the modern urban theories of development. If you ask any average suburban soccer mom or dad what the problem is with the city, they almost always say "it is too crowded!"
Jacobs is able to show that the real problem with cities isn't overpopulation - rather, it is exactly the opposite! The major problem with cities today is that they aren't dense enough. Empty sidewalks are inviting only to criminals. Children, shop keepers, and families hate an empty sidewalk.
Furthermore, city planners compound the situation by moving businesses (and therefore commerce) away from residences - thus resulting in a further decline of sidewalk traffic.
If you're going to be involved in city government, planning, or land use, you should definitely read this book. I'm a small government conservative, and lots of other conservatives are scared by Jacobs -- but let me tell you -- this is the future of America. We should accept and embrace this urban challenge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn on Jan. 17 2001
Format: Paperback
This is one of the books that made me realize what makes a city work and what makes it fail: Jacobs emphasizes that a healthy city neighborhood is created not by one "big box" destination like a convention center or a stadium, but by hundreds of little walkable destinations. Buffalo's downtown is a classic example: the Chippewa St. area (dominated by half a dozen little bars and coffeehouses) is relatively vibrant, while the areas near the convention center and stadium are dead, dead, dead. Similarly, in Cleveland the Warehouse District/Flats area (dominated by small, walkable businesses) are year-round destinations, while the areas surrounding the much-touted stadia and Rock Hall of Fame are utterly deserted after dark except on game days.
In response to the reviewer from N.H. who said Jacobs vindicates conservatism: I don't completely agree. Jacobs' work criticizes liberal reliance on big government housing/urban renewal projects, but is equally critical of big government highway projects that a lot of conservatives seem to like.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 23 2003
Format: Paperback
I highly reccommend that anyone who reads this book download the movie "the dynamic city" (its free and legal) from the Prelinger Archives at archive.org - this video will show the reader the ideology in the urban planning world at the time this book was written and what Jane Jacobs showed us to be ineffective. A high speed connection would be best for the download.
This is the best book I have read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 20 2004
Format: Paperback
This book reads like a novel rather than an ideological tome. If you think of it that way, the city is the protagonist and you feel like you're reading a bildundgsroman about this much put upon but always fascinating central character. Wow. Somebody recommended a Modern Library edition. I have to concur because this edition (paperback) is badly designed and hard to read. It's worth getting a nicer edition.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Farrell on May 6 2003
Format: Paperback
"It may be that we have become so feckless as a people that we no longer care how things work, but only what kind of quick, easy outer impression they give. If so, there is little hope for our cities or probably much else in our society."
This is a book about understanding cities and understanding scientifically what makes them thrive and sustain themselves. It also delves into the history of the forces that made them what they are, and the methods that will need to be brought to bear if we intend to create life again in our downtowns.
Jacobs really lays it down, giving us a comprehensive look at how great cities work. I'd recommend this book to students of city planning, Architecture, and anybody who is interested in developing an understanding of why things are the way they are.
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Format: Paperback
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs has become a classic in urban planning since its publication in 1961. I had long wanted to read it, especially since Jacobs lived in Toronto for over forty years. Although Jacobs was an American, I as well as many Torontonians considered her one of our own. My library system chose Cities as one of its highlighted Raves & Faves several years ago and when new titles were introduced to this ongoing series, I picked up one of our withdrawn copies.

It took me five weeks to finish Cities. During my first two days I was spellbound by the lengthy introduction; so much so that I read it through twice. All I could talk about was how visionary Jacobs was. That is no exaggeration; I did in fact rave about the introduction to several people, including to my partner who has a degree in urban planning. I could see Jacobs's genius in the introduction alone, and after I finished reading it the first time, I felt I had to read it over again. It was so full of valuable insights, that had I been given a highlighter to mark the key points, I would have given every sentence a golden hue.

For good reason Cities has earned its reputation as a groundbreaking work on city planning. Jacobs was not afraid to turn the prevailing orthodoxy on urban planning upside down by calling some of its prevailing attitudes foolish. Her views which shook the 1960's are now on university curricula. Some of her theories seem so basic now, that even one like myself who is not schooled in urban design can see the sense in them. How could her ideas have been so controversial over fifty years ago? I feel that her outright challenge of the orthodoxy really threw her urban colleagues. Jacobs rocked the boat, which had been idly floating by for decades.
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