Has Jane Jacobs Won?

diciembre 21, 2007

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At the Gotham forum at CUNY Graduate Center, as throughout the city, Jacobs is generally praised and Moses is scorned. Neighborhood residents look at such projects as Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, and see the kind of imperial efforts used by Robert Moses to roll over communities (as detailed in the biography of him by Robert Caro, The Power Broker). They cite Jacobs for her love of the “ballet of neighborhood life” and her opposition to planning from the top down, memorialized in her classic book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.“Jacobs has won the debate,” New York City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden declared at the forum, presenting the traditional view. (See her essay)

The Department of City Planning, she said, now develops finely-grained, nuanced plans that seek to incorporate neighborhood feedback. Even when she plans for large-scale developments, she said, she imagines Jacobs looking over her shoulder.But perhaps things are more complicated than they seem. Most of the presenters on the panel disputed the idea that “we are all Jacobs-ians now.” Richard Kahan (development czar under Mario Cuomo) agreed that “we are trying to have a diversity of uses where Moses was encouraging monolithic super blocks.” But he argued that “we are still talking about mega projects, not bad, not good necessarily … but they are hardly paying much attention to neighborhood scale.”leer +

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