News Brief

Jane Jacobs, Champion of Dense, Diverse Cities, Dies

Jane Jacobs, an advocate for dense and lively cities best known for her 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, died April 25, 2006, at age 89. While Jacobs did not have formal architectural training, she had an inside view of urban renewal projects from an editorial post at Architectural Forum magazine and a keen appreciation of the urban life she observed from her perch in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. With a fresh, narrative perspective, she challenged the convention of replacing dense slums with high-rises surrounded by open space and freeways. Jacobs called for multi-use districts; short blocks; buildings variable in age, condition, and use; and dense population. Critics and champions were many, but all would probably agree with The New York Times’ 2003 assessment, citing Jacobs’ eye-opening critique of modern architecture, that called the book’s publication “one of 20th-century architecture’s most traumatic events.”

Published June 7, 2006

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