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The Death and Life of American Cities

This powerpoint supports The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs, but it only covers the chapters that I teach.

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The Death and Life of American Cities

  1. 1. The Death and Life of American Cities What Jane Jacobs saw and what we see today Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 1
  2. 2. Who was Jane Jacobs?• Jane Jacobs has no professional training as a city planner.• She used her own observations about cities to formulate her philosophy about them.• Even though some of her views go against the standards of urban planning, her work is well respected.• Jacobs was born in 1916 in the coal mining town of Scranton, PA. She left Scranton for New York City. During her first several years in the city, she held many different types of jobs, and was even subject to periods of unemployment.• Her first real writing position was at a metals trade paper. While working there, she also held free-lance writing positions at The New York Herald Tribune and Vogue.• Jacobs based The Death and Life of Great American Cities on her observations in the cities that she notes in the book. She was living in the New York City, but she made many trips to Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago.• (see Cities, Urban Theory, and Design: The Power of Jane Jacobs)• She died in 2002. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 2
  3. 3. Purpose of the Book• Jacobs saw the principles that underlie city planning as erroneous and detrimental to cities.• Small businesses are ruined and families become uprooted—Jacobs cites expressway construction as one factor.• A banker may consider a particular area to be a slum; however, it may actually be a thriving neighborhood. Banks refuse to give out loans to such areas, so the vibrancy of the neighborhood is a result of community interaction.• Planners are more concerned with automobiles—they see cars as both a cause of city decay and a needed commodity. Jacobs see cars as a symptom of city problems, not the source. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 3
  4. 4. Intentions of the Text• Jacobs wants to introduce new principles in city planning.• Part 1 examines city problems, using sidewalks and parks as metaphors.• Part 2 studies the economics behind city problems.• Part 3 emphasizes decay along with regeneration (Slumming and Unslumming— a term Jacobs invents).• Part 4 is where Jacobs makes suggestions for change in existing cities and different planning for new ones.• Jacobs looks to inner-cities for her main observations. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 4
  5. 5. Cities and Places that Jacobs Discusses• North End of Boston—Jacobs uses it to show the misconceptions from public city planning.• New York City— the scene of many examples, including Greenwich Village in Manhattan, where she lives.• Philadelphia—designed by William Penn—the city was planned through using 4 squares, each with a park. Jacobs examines the parks to see which is successful and which is not.• Chicago---Jacobs uses a variety of neighborhoods, from Hyde Park to the Back of the Yards. Chicago was credit blacklisted for years, but still reversed much of the slumming process. (Note: Jacobs wrote this book in 1959, and much has changed in Chicago.)• Chatham Village, Pittsburgh—a development that represents standard city planning—Jacobs doesn’t like this.• Sidewalks and Streets—a place for movement within the city—cars and people. Safety is the key factor for successful streets and sidewalks. Jacobs examines the components of safety.• City Parks—intended as a vital park of neighborhoods, but some are detrimental and others are successful. Jacobs looks at the reasons. (Washington Square is unsuccessful, but Rittenhouse Square is very successful. Why?)• Photo 1: Washington Square• Photo 2: Rittenhouse Square Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 5
  6. 6. Various Themes in the Text• City Planning Errors• Successful Neighborhoods vs. Unsuccessful Neighborhoods (We also have to look at Jacobs’ criteria for success.)• Diversity—a necessary component for successful cities, but what does the term mean?• Change is necessary—planners need to rethink their definition of cities, look at what Jacobs sees as factors that tell more about cities.• Slumming/Unslumming—city planners tore down slums, including landmark buildings. They built housing projects that made problems worse. Planners need to think about a congenial area where people will want to stay, not be forced to stay. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 6
  7. 7. • Cabrini Green--Chicago • Ida Wells--Chicago Robert Taylor Homes off Dan Ryan Expressway Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 7
  8. 8. Sidewalks: Safety• 3 factors contribute to street • 3 ways to deal with city safety: insecurity:• 1. A clear line between public and • 1. Ignore the situation and allow private space. it to continue.• 2. The eyes of the neighborhood • 2. Spend time in vehicles instead must be on the street/sidewalks. of walking on sidewalks 3. The sidewalks and streets must • 3. Territory or Turf: developed by be in constant use. gangs, the aim is to keep rival• Small business must flourish in gangs from entering the neighborhoods as it attracts neighborhood. City planners use people. More people means the concept to tacitly enforce safety. segregation and lack of diversity.• Streets need lights. Streets need Fear keeps people out of a intersections. This attracts people neighborhood. Fear also keeps and safety. people from leaving the neighborhood. The quality of everyday life diminishes rapidly. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 8
  9. 9. Sidewalks: Contact and Children• Sidewalks are social—people meet on sidewalks. • The thought is always to get children• Stores, movie theaters, restaurants off the streets and into playgrounds. increase positive social contact. • Yet children are often safer when playing on sidewalks because adults• Sidewalks create a public character. are there. Think of South Street and the • Jacobs notes that most city planners diverse groups of people who travel are men and they don’t think of the down the sidewalks. needs of women or children. Both have a far different relationship to• Trust is crucial for sidewalks to be sidewalks. safe places for contact. • Children prefer sidewalks because• Sidewalk travel ensures that people they are more interesting. know each other—from shopping, • Children can play games: jumping from bus stops, from windows. rope, double dutch, chalk drawings, hopscotch, races.• Suspicion and fear of neighbors will • They can buy ice cream and candy make sidewalks unsafe—compare nearby. the difference between old neighborhoods and new high rises. How can people in high rises get to Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 9 know their neighbors?
  10. 10. Some Examples of Sidewalks in Philadelphia Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 10
  11. 11. More SidewalksBertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 11
  12. 12. City Concentration: The Opposite of Sprawl• Population density can guarantee • Concentration is necessary for diversity. successful cities. Why?• Density is not the same as All of this depends on the neighborhood— overcrowding. what works for one won’t work for another.• High concentration means visitors as well as residents. Think of • Example: Could Old City withstand the Manhattan—constant movement of same amount of daily commuters found in residents, tourists, commuters. Manhattan. No—too small, sidewalks are• Diversity is not about color or small, less business diversity. But Michigan ethnicty alone. It involves economic Avenue in Chicago might be more able to class, the intentions of each deal with such concentration as there are individual for visiting or living in a high rises, high scale shopping, large specific area. sidewalks, large streets and a mixture of• Slums often have low population residents, tourists and commuters. density as people with means get out. Those who remain may not have much choice as they may be too poor to move. If they are elderly, they may be on a limited income.• Overcrowding is defined as 1.5 persons per room. It can occur in low density areas because of poverty. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 12
  13. 13. New York Milwaukee NeighborhoodTimes Square Chicago at night 13
  14. 14. Some Myths about City Diversity • Fact: Anything done badly can be ugly. Homogeneity (sameness) seems orderly, but• Myth 1: Diversity is ugly. betrays a deep disorder, as it doesn’t allow for change or expression.• Myth 2: Diversity causes traffic • Fact: Traffic causes congestion, not diversity. congestion. “Lack of wide ranges of concentrated diversity• Myth 3: Diversity invites ruinous can put people into automobiles for almost all uses. It allows for permissive policies. their needs.”(230)• Fact: Uses are not absolute. Planners • Example: what happens when a Wal-Mart believe bars, manufacturing, moves near a neighborhood.? Much land is taken for parking alone—small business fails, theatres, clinics and small business people only use the Wal Mart for general can be harmful—preferring big needs, even eyeglasses. What some planners corporate lots to ensure order. call permissive is the ability to choose. However, choice means growth and • If a Wal-Mart takes over, people have to drive, with growth comes protection on the they buy a homogenous product and they part o the community. don’t help the neighborhood grow, as the (See my explanation using Wal-Mart majority of people who may shop at a Wall- as an example—when the book was Mart won’t live in the neighborhood. So diversity is shattered, because the Wal-Mart is written, Wal-Mart didn’t exist. ) actually more permissive by making Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Janeconsumerism seem easier as it is one place. Jacobs 14
  15. 15. Aeriel photo of Wal Mart in San Antonio—parallel to anothershopping center. Look at the amount of space used for parking lots. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 15
  16. 16. Successful Neighborhoods in Philly Old City and South StreetNorthern Liberties Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 16
  17. 17. Unsuccessful Neighborhoods in PhillyKensington North Philadelphia Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 17
  18. 18. Chapter 15: Slumming and UnslummingSlumming Unslumming• Slums are a vicious circle; slum areas • An area can unslum if the following take place: are both perpetrators and victims. • 1. The population that remains take an• Urban renewal programs generally interest in improving the area. fail to stop slums. • 2. Sidewalks become safe and interesting.• People move in and out too quickly; • 3. A decline in overcrowding among slums have low population. certain low rent buildings.• Stagnation and dullness are the first • 4. Diversity is key to unslumming; business symptoms of slumming. Ethnicity is growth, variety of economic class and seen as a cause, but that is a professions—more families with children smokescreen. Relocation and tearing who take interest in the schools and parks. down buildings is slum shifting. • The area needs to be seen as useful, key to city growth, instead of a scene of urban• The term “perpetual slum” is a place blight. with no economic and/or social • Example: North Philadelphia could improvement—it can also be an area “unslum” quicker if Temple University that worsens with time. became more inclusive of the residents• Jacobs considers housing projects to and their needs along with the students. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 18 be planned slums.
  19. 19. Slum West Side of Chicago Unslummed Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 19
  20. 20. Chapter 17—Subsidized Dwellings• Why does it exist? Subsequent Problems: 1. The government becomes the landlord.• Jacobs: “Our cities contain people to poor to pay for the quality of shelter our public 2. The government is in competition with conscience…tells us they should have.” private landlords. (323) 3. Since it became a governmental• Supply vs. demand: many cities lack problem, a bureaucracy, bloated and sufficient housing to contain all largely unaccountable, grew out of this need for housing. inhabitants without overcrowding. 4. The city no longer functioned organically;• Jacobs notes that these people cannot it became a place to fit statistics and afford housing through private enterprise, quotas. so the planners chose principles to 5. As Jacobs writes: “ The whole conception demonstrate good housing and planning. was irrelevant to the nature of the problem, irrelevant to the plain financial• Jacobs: “This is a terrible answer, with need of the people concerned, irrelevant terrible consequences….Perfectly ordinary to the rest of our economic system, and housing needs can be provided for almost even irrelevant to the meaning of home. (325) anybody by private enterprise. What is 6. In short, the government undermined the peculiar about these people is merely that economic system that can work – they cannot pay for it.” (324) capitalism becomes a mixed bag of• Private enterprise is the key term. Jacobs socialized programs beholden to taxpayers and federal funds. The motivation for insists that the poor have become “a creating top quality housing is erased as special collection of guinea pigs for the competition exists within the Utopians to mess around with.” (324) Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs itself, not the public sector government 20 (or market.)
  21. 21. Guaranteed Rent Program• Jacobs advocates the use of guaranteed rent • Under the guaranteed-rent system, the capital buildings for subsidized housing. costs would be kept in the rent equation,• She wants “to induce private owners to erect instead of falling to the government itself. The these buildings in neighborhoods where they landlord assumes some of the cost as does the are needed to replace worn-out buildings or to tenant—it doesn’t have to be a governmental augment the supply of dwellings.”(326) problem by itself.• First: “the ODS (Office of Dwelling Subsidies) • Jacobs notes the issue of property tax: “under a would guarantee to the builder that he would guaranteed rent system, real estates could and get the financing necessary for construction.” should be included in the rent, as in the case of (326) capital costs, the degree ….would not be a rigid• Second: “the ODS would guarantee to these built –in factor…but would vary depending on builders(or to the owners to whom the buildings the tenants own (varying) abilities to carry their might subsequently be sold) a rent for the share of rental costs.(330) dwellings in the building sufficient to carry • The guaranteed rent program would do away them economically. (327) with massive relocation problems that public• Third: in return for this financial guarantee, housing construction causes. “the ODS would require the owner (a) build his • It also allows for diversity and increased building in a designated neighborhood…(b) in neighborhood use because they would have most cases, that he select his tenants from time for gradual changes. among applicants within a designated area….or • Sudden bursts of standardized housing units group of buildings.”(327) creates upheaval and defeats diversity as people• Fourth: “After the landlord had selected his are literally housed apart from sidewalks, tenants from among the applicants, the ODS streets and neighborhood activity. would then look into the incomes of the tenants • See pages 332 to 337 for more explanations. selected.”(327) Jacobs calls this a “dignified, businesslike transaction in shelter rental.”(327) Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 21
  22. 22. Examples of Subsidized City Housing Johnson Homes New York Utah Section 8 Housing BaltimoreJohnnie Tilmon Townhouses Philadelphia Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 22
  23. 23. Chapter 18-Erosion of Cities—Attrition of Automobiles• Many city problems come from automobiles and • First there is street widening, then route the systems used to accommodate them. changes. Then there are complete road changes• Cities need multiplicity of choice, trade and with new bridges and greater areas of land commerce. This means that people need a way devoted to parking. (See previous image of to travel around the city. superstore structure.)• Automobiles haven’t ruined cities. Problems of • Eventually people have to drive because congestion also plagued London when horses everything becomes spread out. This is the city were used. erosion process. As areas thin out, cars are needed for people to reach places for everyday• Cities look at different methods to minimize the uses. congestion between cars, trucks and people. Some have tried to separate pedestrians from • Cities could do things to encourage people to vehicular traffic. Jacobs does not see these as walk or take public transportation. Widening workable solutions. sidewalks, not streets, makes driving less attractive in downtown areas.• Just as there is erosion of cities by automobiles, there is also attrition of automobiles within • Cities need to encourage viable solutions to cities. (Philadelphia is a good example— using cars—better public transportation routes, mediocre public transportation leads to a reliable service, make the city more condusive stronger reliance on cars.) Attrition isn’t for walking. planned; it happens, but there are factors that • Even though Manhattan is crowded, it is a encourage attrition. walking city with a grid that makes it easy for• Too many cars may stop people from driving to people to understand how to get to certain sports events: think of a Phillies game after the places. Chicago is the same way. Philadelphia ninth inning. has a similar grid system in Center City, but it is woefully missing from other parts of the city.• As cities create more space for cars, more cars will use those spaces, causing more attrition. • Cities mean cars and traffic congestion. This There is a greater need for more space. problem won’t go away, but there are ways to deal with it. Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 23
  24. 24. Examples of City GridsGreenwich Village Manhattan Chicago North Side Philadelphia Bertolino-Mosaic 852-Jane Jacobs 24
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This powerpoint supports The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs, but it only covers the chapters that I teach.


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