The Real Deal New York

VIDEO: Here’s how Jane Jacobs changed the way we think about cities

Preservationist, author and activist would have turned 100 today

May 04, 2016 05:15PM
By Alistair Gardiner

Today marks the 100th birthday of activist and writer Jane Jacobs, mother of the New Urbanism movement and one of the most influential voices of modern urban planning.

The author behind “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jacobs helped sculpt New York City’s changing landscape — but not by bringing about new development or infrastructure projects. The Greenwich Village activist fought tirelessly to keep neighborhoods in tact and rallied against urban renewal projects.

She played a key role in halting Robert Moses’ colossal Lower Manhattan Expressway project, which would displace thousands of families and businesses.

Jacobs was not immune to criticism, however. Her detractors insisted she paid little attention to racial equality of the time, and, more recently, helped lay the groundwork for gentrification.

Despite these criticisms, her influence on urban planning is palpable not just in New York, but other major cities, as well.

For a closer look at Jacobs’ legacy, watch the above video.

For more videos, visit The Real Deal’s YouTube page.

MENU