Peter L. Laurence, "Becoming Jane Jacobs"
English | ISBN: 0812247884 | 2016 | EPUB | 376 pages | 9 MB
Becoming Jane Jacobs is the first intellectual biography to focus on Jacobss early life and writing career leading up to her great book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Through an analysis of Jacobss life and work, including many of her previously unknown writings and other original discoveries, Becoming Jane Jacobs offers a new foundation for understanding not only Death and Life, but her subsequent books on cities, economies, and civilizations.
Jane Jacobs is universally recognized as one of the key figures in American urbanism, and The Death and Life of Great American Cities is considered one of the most important books on cities. However, because of her remarkable David-versus-Goliath battles with the "Power Broker" Robert Moses and the urban-renewal establishment, Jacobs has received more attention for being an activist than a thinker, despite having written a list of influential books on cities, economies, and other subjects. Her intellectual skills have often been reduced to unusually keen powers of observation and common sense.
With Becoming Jane Jacobs, Peter L. Laurence shows that what is missing from such stereotypes and myths is a critical examination of how Jacobs arrived at her ideas about city life. The book shows that although Jacobs had only a high school diploma, she pursued a writing career that well prepared her to become an architectural critic just as postwar urban renewal policies came into effect. After starting her writing career in the 1930s, and developing her career as a writer and propagandist for the US government in the 1940s, Jacobs was immersed in an elite intellectual community of architects, city planners, and academics as an editor of the Time Inc. magazine Architectural Forum in the 1950s, a critial decade for US cities. The 1950s was the moment when Americans were deciding between living in new suburbs or rebuilding and modernizing old cities. Laurence reveals that when faced with this choice, Jane Jacobs not only sided with urban renewal, but idealized the field of city planning- before soon coming to see the problems with outdated and anti-urban concepts and methods for improving cities.