Forgotten Heroes: Jane Jacobs

Forgotten Heroes is a series of posts about extraordinary men and women who are (probably) not remembered by the average person.  Previous heroes include Nellie Bly,  Charles Loring Brace and Emily Murphy.

If you know of a forgotten hero who should be included in this series let me know about him or her in the comment section or via my contact form

 Time: 1968

Place: Toronto

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
― Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

To whom does your neighbourhood belong?




Jane Jacobs thought it belongs to you.

Well maybe not legally. But she saw a difference between building a city for cars and building it for people.

She thought of a city – of any community, really – as a living thing. Just as you or I wouldn’t survive very long if we traded in our livers for an extra stomach Jacobs believed that cities need to be mixed-use and dense in population in order to prosper over the long haul.

If all of the businesses are at one end of a city and all houses on the other it’s going to be pretty difficult to maintain a sense of community. Everyone will be too busy driving from one end of the city to the other to go to work or pick up a loaf of bread.

There was a time when I spent four hours a day travelling to and from work. It doesn’t leave much time for getting to know the neighbours…or to browse at a local store.

A few generations ago it was common for people from every class, but especially the poor, to live in the same neighbourhood in which they worked. Sometimes shopkeepers lived in the same building as their shops and business owners sold products from their living rooms.

Fashions and zoning laws changed and this isn’t something you hear about very often these days.

I wonder if it will ever be allowed again?


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2 Responses to Forgotten Heroes: Jane Jacobs

  1. You’re including lots of my favourites in these posts, though I confess I knew almost nothing about Jane Jacobs before finding this. What an interesting woman! I sometimes wonder if a combination of no oil and better technology will mean that many of us will be able to do our jobs entirely online in the near future…

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