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Where are all the people?

Owen Hatherley: Jane Jacobs

26 July 2017
Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane​ Jacobs 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 512 pp., £34, September 2016, 978 0 307 96190 7
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Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane​ Jacobs 
edited by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring.
Random House, 544 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 0 399 58960 7
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... fewer people than in the shopping centre. There is a reason this place had to go, even before the interests of real estate and cash-poor councils were taken into consideration, and that reason is: JaneJacobs says no. This injunction can be traced back to the epiphany Jacobs experienced as a freelance journalist in Philadelphia in the mid-1950s when she visited new housing estates and old ‘slums ...

Walls, Fences, Grilles and Intercoms

Andrew Saint: Security and the City

19 November 2009
Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st-Century City 
by Anna Minton.
Penguin, 240 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 0 14 103391 4
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... values over Britain’s built environment, recurrent in Ground Control. Minton has more to say about the American influences, no doubt because they wield so much power today. As long ago as 1961, JaneJacobs in her Death and Life of Great American Cities presented the case for a free and open security system based on the mutual vigilance of the street. That was partly countered by Oscar Newman ...
19 October 2016
... and Colin Rowe’s arguments for collage and the reinstatement of the ‘leftovers of the world’ within wider urban design. For their part, civic activists and urban thinkers such as JaneJacobs and Herbert Gans saw those ‘leftovers’ in strong social and economic terms. The oil crisis shook the ‘obsolescence paradigm’ of unlimited growth and consumption to the core; adaptive reuse ...

The Aestheticising Vice

Paul Seabright: Systematic knowledge

27 May 1999
Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 464 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 300 07016 0
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... from the sea ‘after a two week crossing’, or from the air). What Modernist city planners disliked about existing cities was that they looked messy, regardless of how they worked. Indeed, JaneJacobs famously argued many years ago that the most human and interesting neighbourhoods to live in tended to look messy precisely because of the way they functioned – with a great deal of local ...

Capitalism’s Capital

Jackson Lears: The Man Who Built New York

17 March 2016
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York 
by Robert Caro.
Bodley Head, 1246 pp., £35, July 2015, 978 1 84792 364 6
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... cohesion, its infatuation with cars and the comparatively well-off people who drove them. The collapse of modernist grandiosity accelerated a swerve in urban planning towards the view articulated by JaneJacobs in The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), which promoted a new emphasis on protecting vital neighbourhoods and allowing for unpredictable social encounters in public spaces. This ...
27 May 1993
The Spirit of the Age: An Account of Our Times 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 388 pp., £20, February 1993, 1 85619 204 0
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... from what Geoffrey Hawthorn, reviewing Anderson’s book, has described as a classically Enlightened ‘post-nationalism’ to the more romantic (or anarchist) position deriving from thinkers like JaneJacobs (Cities and the Wealth of Nations, 1985) and Roman Szporluk (Communism and Nationalism, 1988). The LRB of 25 February published this reviewer’s variation on the second theme as ‘Forward to ...

The Great Sorting

Ben Rogers: Urban Inequality

25 April 2018
The New Urban Crisis: Gentrification, Housing Bubbles, Growing Inequality and What We Can Do about It 
by Richard Florida.
Oneworld, 352 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 1 78607 212 2
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... website that posts three or four articles a day on urban trends, debates, movements and technologies. The editorial line is anti-suburb, anti-car, pro-bike, pro-coffee, pro-affordable housing, pro-JaneJacobs. Although Florida’s position hasn’t fundamentally altered, he has become worried that cities are increasingly implicated in inequality. It’s true that they are engines of invention ...

Summer Simmer

Tom Vanderbilt: Chicago heatwaves

22 August 2002
Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago 
by Eric Klinenberg.
Chicago, 305 pp., £19.50, August 2002, 0 226 44321 3
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... residents – not all of them Latinos – were able to find refuge in storefronts and other public spaces, while North Lawndale residents lived in fear of leaving the house. It reinforces a point JaneJacobs once made: streets matter. In the months following the heatwave, the story – deemed a ‘summer story’ – gradually faded from the news. People began to lose track of how many people had ...

An Even Deeper Bunker

Tom Vanderbilt: Secrets and spies

7 March 2002
Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World 
by James Bamford.
Century, 721 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 7126 7598 1
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Total Surveillance: Investigating the Big Brother World of E-Spies, Eavesdroppers and CCTV 
by John Parker.
Piatkus, 330 pp., £10.99, September 2001, 0 7499 2226 5
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... on mobile phone channels capable of being picked up on AM radio. Why is a police surveillance camera on a public street any more intrusive than a patrolman stationed on the corner? Urban safety, as JaneJacobs showed, is based in part on there being eyes on the street – the surveillance inherent in everyday life. The real question in all of this is motive, not means: who’s doing the watching ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: New York Megacity

16 August 2007
... John Leonard, then the Times’s books editor, declared a couple of years later that the future was dead. These weren’t exceptional remarks: gloom was everywhere. At the beginning of the 1960s, JaneJacobs and Lewis Mumford, America’s most famous writers on urban issues, sensed a crisis on the horizon, but they didn’t foresee just how badly things would turn out. Nor did Robert Moses, who ...

Bigness

Hal Foster: Rem Koolhaas

29 November 2001
Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping 
by Rem Koolhaas et al.
Taschen, 800 pp., £30, December 2001, 3 8228 6047 6
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Great Leap Forward 
by Rem Koolhaas et al.
Taschen, 720 pp., £30, December 2001, 3 8228 6048 4
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... Koolhaas argued that ‘the historic façades’ of the European city ‘often mask the pervasive reality of the un-city’; Shopping extends this insight to the US, and traces a perverse line from JaneJacobs to ‘Disney Space’, giving examples of the preservation of city centres producing a non-urban void, later given over to malling. A dialectical twist of this sort has also jumped up and ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities

6 September 2001
Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... be removed from renovations and conversions. The report also tentatively suggests a ‘greenfield tax’ on out-of-town sites. The theoretical origins of this urban renaissance are to be found in JaneJacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). When Rogers and Power write of a major shift in attitude in the 1960s, ‘against clearance and new building and in favour of inner-city ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary

13 September 2018
The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... over curved staircases and papered walls and small interiors – doors and ceilings and corners that remain secret even with everybody looking at them.’ Her columns are vivid depictions of what JaneJacobs called ‘the ballet of the city sidewalk’, but they also display a fascination with the forces that were making that life extinct. In ‘The Last Days of New York City’ (1955), she ...

Do you think he didn’t know?

Stefan Collini: Kingsley Amis

14 December 2006
The Life of Kingsley Amis 
by Zachary Leader.
Cape, 996 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 224 06227 1
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...  not continuously, but punctually – for the rest of your life.’) Experience ends with an account of the comprehensive falling-out of the Amis family with Kingsley’s first biographer, Eric Jacobs. In agreeing to take on the tasks of, first, editing the letters, and then writing the ‘authorised’ biography, Leader, a close friend of Martin Amis, was thus taking on a delicate and highly ...
16 November 1995
... with being so socially present as they once were. It isn’t common now to love reading about what we disapprove of in real life. The two Amises continued co-existing. When he married Elizabeth Jane Howard they went to live in a big house near Barnet, a matriarchal establishment largely run, it seemed, by his new mother and brother-in-law. Amis rejoiced in this set-up, which seemed to come quite ...

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