Jane Jacobs

Jacobs, Jane, 1916–2006, American-Canadian urbanologist, b. Scranton, Pa., as Jane Butzner. In the 1930s she moved to New York City, where she was (1952–64) an editor of Architectural Forum magazine. Living in Greenwich Village during this period, she became an effective leader in efforts to preserve her neighborhood and the adjoining area of Soho, particularly opposing development schemes promoted by Robert Moses. Her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), proved to be one of the most influential works in the history of city planning and has been particularly important to America's New Urbanists. In it, Jacobs advocated the free and spontaneous growth of cities, condemned modernist planning, decried urban renewal's wholesale destruction of communities, and argued for high-density neighborhoods and multiple-use buildings as the foundations of vital, socially successful city living. In 1968, Jacobs and her family moved to Toronto, where she again became active in city development; she became a Canadian citizen in 1973. Her later books, which focused on urban and regional economies as well as on broader topics, include The Economy of Cities (1969), Cities and the Wealth of Nations (1984), Systems of Survival (1992), The Nature of Economies (2000), and Dark Age Ahead (2004).

See biographies by A. S. Alexiou (2006) and G. Lang and M. Wunsch (2008); M. Allen, Ideas That Matter: The World of Jane Jacobs (1997); T. Mennel, J. Steffens, and C. Klemek, ed., Block by Block: Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York (2007); A. Flint, Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City (2009).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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