Saturday, April 29, 2006

Jane Jacobs Was an Urban Giant, Like King Kong

Ok, I just made that up.

Jane Jacobs, whose Death and Life of the Great American Cities is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read, died this week.

I was raised in the suburbs. For me, the city was a place for field trips and occasional cultural adventures. I never thought of it as a place people could actually live. Death and Life opened for me, as for the generation of new urbanists my age and older, the vision of cities as the most vibrant form of human existence. I have since lived in and enjoyed cities, as well as lamenting their defects (I did live in D.C. for three years, after all). And I am the first to say that small towns, like the one in which I am now blessed to live, is a great place to raise kids.

But cities really do drive civilization. I thank Jane Jacobs for convincing a generation of suburban kids like me that urbanity is vital for everyone.

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