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The Death and Life of Great American Cities
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am 18. Juni 1999
This is one of the fundamental books on the successful strcuturing of large cities. The ideas proesented here about the principles that will generate a liviable settlement are applicable to settlements of all sizes. Jacob shows how these principles can be met within the structure of large cities and how some of the convnetional designs of such cities hinder thme and create non-ideal living spaces.
The book is excellent. Unfortunalely however its solutions have been seiezed upon by zealots who try to fit Jacob's solutions for large cities to settlements of every size. Jacobs' ideas and name are used constantly in discussions on city planning. It would be better if the people bandying her ideas about would read her books. They might be surprised to find that theirs and her ideas about the role of government in city planning may be quite dissimilar.
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am 15. Juli 2000
A stunning and essential book, but the reviewer who describes New Urbanism and Smart Growth as Jane Jacobs repackaged insults her. Her comments are much more finely qualified. For example: "I hope that no reader will try to transfer my observations into guides as to what goes on in towns, or little cities, or in suburbs which are still suburban. Towns, suburbs and even little cities are completely different organisms from great cities." It would be more accurate to call Smart Growth an attempt to apply Jacobs' ideas to the places to which she warned they shouldn't be applied.
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am 12. Oktober 1996
Even 35 years after it was written, The Death and Life of Great American
Cities remains the classic book on how cities work and
how urban planners and others have naively destroyed
functioning cities. It is widely known for its incisive
treatment of those who would tear down functioning neighborhoods
and destroy the lives and livelihoods of people for the sake of a
groundless but intellectually appealing daydream.

But although many see it as a polemic against urban planning,
the best parts of it, the parts that have endeared it to
many who love cities, are quite different. Death and Life
is, first of all, a work of observation. The illustrations
are all around us, she says, and we must go and look. She
shows us parts of the city that are alive -- the streets,
she says, are the city that we see, and it is the streets and
sidewalks that carry the most weight -- and find the patterns
that help us not merely see but understand. She shows us the city as
an ecology -- a system of interactions that is more than
merely the laying out of buildings as if they were a
child's wooden blocks.

But observation can mean simply the noting of objects.
Ms. Jacobs writes beautifully, lovingly, of New York
City and other urban places. Her piece "The Ballet of
Hudson Street" is both an observation of events on the
Greenwich Village street where she lived and a prose poem
describing the comings and goings of the people, the rhythms
of the shopkeepers and the commuters and others who use the
street.

In this day when "inner city" is a synonym for poverty
and hopelessness, it is important to be reminded that
cities are literally the centers of civilization, of
business, of culture. This is just as true today as it was
in the early 1960s when this was written. We in North
America owe Jane Jacobs a great debt for her insight and her
eloquence.
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am 10. Juli 1998
When I was in university taking urban planning over 25 years ago, Jane Jacobs was required reading. It was the only book on the book list that I have since re-read. Ms. Jacobs outlook on the development of community and her examples of healthy and unhealthy communities is as pertinent today as it was 25 years ago. Her concepts of making our communities safe by keeping people on the streets is critical. Her ideas on mixing land uses to keep areas active all the time and returning to the old lifestyles of shop owners living above their stores, are critical to the safe and happy communities. Knowing your neighbours, not blocking views with garages and fences...sitting on your front porch with your after dinner coffee watching the children play games and tending your garden and meeting your neighbours...these are the things we need to get back to - and these are not neo-traditional, they are good common sense. Ms. Jacobs has lots of that!
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am 11. Juni 1998
This book should be required reading for every American. Mrs. Jacobs shows how the foolhardy ambitions and inept design of America's cities by every politician, architect, and urban planner had come to preclude our cities from being successful places where we want to live. What makes this book remarkable, however, is that Mrs. Jacobs offers pragmatic suggestions on how to resurrect our neighborhoods. The book's offerings fly in the face of what many scholarly urban planners accept as doctrine, but Mrs. Jacob's ideas work where the rest of us live - in real life. The book's only drawback is that it's a bit dated, and it's a bit too long. Mrs. Jacobs could have made her case in half the time. Still, this should not distract from her work. All we need are people brave enough to perform the radical surgery this book suggests.
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am 17. August 1999
Alright, she doesn't actually use the "chaos theory" and "fractal" words. At the end of this fascinating book, however, is a tie-in to what we are only beginning to harness in the world of problem-solving. Jane Jacobs hints at her understanding of complexity throughout the book, but her basis is made clear in the last chapter as she exposes the way to grasp the problems of cities.
The reason her book has outlasted her critics is that she applied rational observation and empiricism to a realm that was dominated by artists trying to build pretty things. While styles of art may change quickly, she has demonstrated that human behaviour and needs are a bit more timeless.
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am 11. Dezember 1996
This mind clearing book gets rid of the idea that cities are parasites on the innocent countryside. It tells how urban trading -- including the information trade -- are the beginning of wealth and the foundation for the supposed "agricultural revolution" of 6000 years ago. Urbanism doesn't come last, it comes first. If you get this wrong you get urban America.

A few years after writing this superb book, Jacobs moved to Toronto, which the UN, Fortune magazine, and a lot of the rest of us think is one of the world's better addresses. I think the book should also see her to Scandinavia for the Nobels
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am 4. November 1999
I first read this book about ten years ago, and it changed the way I look at and interact with New York (and other cities that I have visited since). This should be required reading for metropolitan dwellers as it gives a very logical framework for understanding how large cities are unique in their physical and sociological structure. Absolutely fascinating!
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am 22. August 1998
The book is written in simple enough language and concepts that you only have to live in a large city to understand what she is saying. Her concepts are easy to understand, but also make perfect sense. The best part of this book is applying what you read to your own city. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough.
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am 27. Januar 1999
Jane Jacobs said most of what there is to say about how cities work back in the early 60's. City lovers (or dwellers, or leaders, or builders) ignore her at their own peril. Plus, her style is wonderful: charming and razor-sharp. A treasure to read and reread.
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