Thirty years after its publication, The Death and Life of Great American Cities was described by The New York Times as "perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning....[It] can also be seen in a much larger context. It is first of all a work of literature; the descriptions of street life as a kind of ballet and the bitingly satiric account of traditional planning theory can still be read for pleasure even by those who long ago absorbed and appropriated the book's arguments."
Jane Jacobs, an editor and writer on architecture in New York City in the early 60s, argued that urban diversity and vitality were being destroyed by powerful architects and city planners. Rigorous, sane, and delightfully epigrammatic, Jacobs's small masterpiece is a blueprint for the humanistic management of cities. It is sensible, knowledgeable, readable, indispensable.
The author has written a new foreword for this Modern Library edition.
©2011 Jane Jacobs (P)2011 Random House Audio
"The most refreshing, provacative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense." (Harrison Salisbury, The New York Times)
"One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city... a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious - it is the eye and the heart - but it has given us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city." (William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man)
A must read for the history of urban life and how important it is to think of cities like a living organism, in need of understanding on a deeper level, and in need of sustenance from within and above. Also provides a road map of local political action in confronting governmental mistakes and powerful people. Gives great power to the working poor. Written in the early 1960s about a New York City urban life that no longer exists, it still rings true for older listeners who remember such a time.
A different narrator
The actual story
Someone less robotic (I think this narrator must be the person they hire for voice programming making her voice associated with Siri-esque narration)
This text is foundational on the subject and I can't speak negatively about it, but it is difficult to listen to for the duration simply because it's so academic.
Professional librarian type, amateur historian.
I attempted to read the dead tree version of this book and did not get far. I appreciate the narrator because it seemed a bit more accessible in an audible format. I will listen to it again but with a dead tree version close at hand because there are ideas that Jacobs mentions that I'd like to spend a bit more time thinking about before rolling on to the next thought.
I've read urban planning commentary that quotes or refers to this Jacobs book as if it were the Bible. Listening to it for myself, I wonder if this is the same author people bring up when they talk about historic preservation, because I got a completely different sense of what she was saying, which is why I need a paper version as well.
Another commenter mentioned the book is dated. Yes, it is, but is informative regarding big cities and the motivations of city administrators and politicians in regards to federal funds and the motivation to big build stupid projects that do nothing for the citizen on the ground. That is still going on, even though those same city administrators may claim a love for Jacob's ideas.
A thoroughly written book with deep insight into city planning, development, mixed use, the importance of diversity and urbanism in general. Jane Jacobs will stand out as a pillar and a strong reminder of what's still going on today, only that the scale of things have now, gone totally out of whack. The dynamics of people and economical forces (high or low) will be the same as long as the industrial world operate with the same systems as today. The reader for this audiobook could have been a little more vivid in expression and melody, but the diction is flawless.
"a must hear"
City planners are starting to incorporate the big city project ideas along with Jane Jacobs mixed use philosophy. Just google 80/20 housing lotteries in NYC as a prime example for mixed rent/income dwellings. Some even incorporate parks/amenities/ and public schools to ease the strain on surrounding municipalities. While I do agree with community members being the eyes and ears of the streets responsible for those that walk/play on their streets, I do not believe the frigid winters and curb side garbage pickups of the city streets offer an ideal environment for children to play. Certainly blocks filled with skyscrapers will never have the sidewalk space to accommodate all of the buildings children to play on the sidewalk even if they did close off their streets. The advent of big data mining I feel will also help organize and better streamline the information and communications between those most in need to make crucial decisions regarding city planning. Nevertheless a great book that will forever change the way I view city streets.
I am new to audible! I hope I like audio books...
Informative and Thought-provoking
If I had nine hours to listen to it consistently, I would have.
A must read (or hear) for anyone interesed in sustainable or liveable cities. Great for planners or those working in development.
I hate hate hate Jacobs' writing style. Her insights on all things planning, however, are invaluable. It's an absolute must read for anyone interested in planning or the social workings of cities.
Having trudged through the first 45% of the book reading the text I must say her style is easier to swallow in audio form. To me, it feels more like she's writing a book than a speech than a book if that makes sense.
The book reminds me of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Extensive, profound original penetrating analysis.
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