The Death and Life of Great American Cities | Taylor & Francis GroupI n Donald Barthelme's short story "I Bought a Little City" , the narrator decides one day to purchase Galveston, Texas, where he then tears down some houses, shoots 6, dogs, and rearranges what remains into the shape of a giant Mona Lisa jigsaw puzzle visible only from the air. As with much of Barthelme's work, the premise seems so absurd that one can't help but shake it until a metaphor falls out, and here one might well assume that, in the words of the novelist Donald Antrim, "I Bought a Little City" is "a take on the role that a writer has in writing a story — playing god, in a certain way". But Barthelme first arrived in Greenwich Village, where he would live for most of the rest of his life, in the winter of , just as local campaigners were narrowly defeating an attempt by the despotic city planner Robert Moses to run a lane elevated highway through the middle of Washington Square Park. For decades, Moses really did play god with New York, and for anyone who ever lived within his kingdom, "I Bought a Little City', which was first published in the New Yorker, might not have seemed so absurd after all. Those local campaigners were led by Jane Jacobs, another great Greenwich Village writer.
GRAHAM HANCOCK - AMERICA BEFORE: THE KEY TO EARTH'S LOST CIVILIZATION - Part 1/2 - London Real
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The book is a critique of s urban planning policy, which it holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Jacobs was a critic of " rationalist " planners of the s and s, especially Robert Moses , as well as the earlier work of Le Corbusier. She argued that modernist urban planning overlooked and oversimplified the complexity of human lives in diverse communities. She opposed large-scale urban renewal programs that affected entire neighborhoods and built freeways through inner cities. She instead advocated for dense mixed use development and walkable streets, with the "eyes on the street" of passers-by helping to maintain public order. Jacobs begins the work with the blunt statement that: "This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding. Branding the mainstream theory of cities as an "elaborately learned superstition" that had now penetrated the thinking of planners, bureaucrats, and bankers in equal measure, she briefly traces the origins of this "orthodox urbanism.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs is concerned with the problems of city planning and the strategy that planners followed throughout most of the twentieth century. The strategy of rebuilding has not been successful. It has not accomplished anything in eliminating slums or halting the decay of city neighborhoods. Jacobs blames not only the city planners but places the burden of the blame on the theorists and educators. Jacobs provides a good analysis of what contributes to the success of neighborhoods by looking at city streets and sidewalks, parks and neighborhoods. She deduces the factors that result in vital neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have streets, sidewalks and parks that are safe, that provide for contact between people, and that provide the opportunity for children to be watched and taught.
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Despite having no formal training in urban planning, Jane Jacobs deftly explores the strengths and weaknesses of policy arguments put forward by American urban planners in the era after World War II. They believed that the efficient movement of cars was of more value in the development of US cities than the everyday lives of the people living there. By carefully examining their relevance in her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities , Jacobs dismantles these arguments by highlighting their shortsightedness. Proposals and policies that are drawn from planning theory do not consider the social dynamics of city life. They are in thrall to futuristic fantasies of a modern way of living that bears no relation to reality, or to the desires of real people living in real spaces.