Yes, you read right – the 1960s urban planning battle between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses will be the central story line for a new opera. Although the premiere is a long way off, its creators promise to bring New York City and the drama to life through song and an elaborate, animated, three-dimensional set. To find out more about the developing project, head on over to Fast Co-Design.
Today would have been social activist and urban writer Jane Jacob‘s 98th birthday. Throughout her career, she fought against corporate globalization and urged urban planners and developers to remember the importance of community and the human scale. Despite not having any formal training, she radically changed urban planning policy through the power of observation and personal experience. Her theories on how design can affect community and creativity continue to hold relevance today - influencing everything from the design of mega-cities to tiny office spaces. She passed away in 2006.
In The Life and Death of Great American Cities, her most well-known publication, Jacobs critiques the short-sightedness of urban planners in the 1950s and argues that their assumptions about what makes a good city are actually detrimental to the human experience. For example, she contends that the creation of automobile infrastructure results in the unnatural division of pre-existing neighbourhoods, creating unsafe environments and thereby severing community connections. In the years leading up to her death, she discussed ways in which communities could recover what they lost as a result of poor foresight in earlier city planning efforts.
After her first novel, Jacobs broadened her scope and began to look at topics such as economics, morals, and social relations. Here is a complete list of her publications:
Here is a video interview, produced by Active Living Network, with famed author and social activist Jane Jacobs. In 1961, Jacobs published The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a bold response to the city planning strategies of her time and the proposals by planners such as Robert Moses. She used her real-world experiences and observations from her own street in the West Village of New York City to comment on how people interacted in neighborhoods – which areas were busiest, safest and most conducive to living. In this video, Jacobs gives insight into how cities can bounce back from the environment created by the automobile through simple and affordable means such as “tree planting, traffic taming and community events”.
Read on for more after the break.