‘Enough with Janes Jacobs Already’ in WSJ

The Wall Street Journal has an article today about why we shouldn’t follow Jane Jacobs entirely blindly, and might want to curb our hero worship a bit:

Her views have now been broadly adopted and it is conventional wisdom in planning circles that participatory neighborhood planning is best, that preservation of old buildings is essential, and that in cities the car is bad. But Jacobs had a tendency toward sweeping conclusions based on anecdotal information, and some of them were overblown and/or oblivious to the facts. Perhaps most graphically, Jacobs predicted that the grand arts center planned for the Upper West Side of Manhattan would fail. But Lincoln Center turned out to be a great success—igniting the revitalization of the entire neighborhood.

More revealingly, the Greenwich Village she held out as a model for city life has become some of the highest-priced real estate in New York City—it’s no longer the diverse, yeasty enclave she treasured. Ultimately, many of the policies she advocated blocked real-estate development—causing prices of existing housing stock to rise and pricing out all but the wealthiest residents.

The piece ends by arguing that we should follow William H. Whyte more. It’s an interesting read.

One Response to “‘Enough with Janes Jacobs Already’ in WSJ”

  1. Chaim June 29, 2010 at 8:33 am Permalink

    “Thanks to the profound influence that The Death and Life of Great American Cities has exerted, the West Village circa 1960 has come to epitomize—really to be the blueprint for—the urban good life. But in its mix of the new and the left over, in its alchemy of authenticity, grit, seedy glamour, and intellectual and cultural sophistication, this was a neighborhood in a transitional and unsustainable, if golden, moment. Which meant that it was about to lose its soul…
    Thanks in no small part to the fact that Jacobs’s recipe for livable and vibrant cities… the physical appearance of Jacobs’s old neighborhood… is much as it was. But its character is unrecognizable.”

    Read the whole thing (~1 page) here:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/06/gentrification-and-its-discontents/8092/