Jane Jacobs is the Godmother of modern urbanism. Her 1961 book the Death and Life of Great American Cities, helped shift the focus of urban planning from a top down approach to a more organic, grass roots one that focused on cities and their citizens.
For her centenary, the Martin Prosperity Institute’s director of cities Richard Florida looks back on his relationship with Jacobs – both her work, which he discovered as a teenager, and their friendship near the end of her life. He talks about her influence, what most people miss when considering her contribution to urbanism, and what he sees as the dark sense of pessimism that influenced her final writings. “She was a massive social and economic thinker,” he says. “She defined what a modern city or neighbourhood is.”
Richard Florida and Jane Jacobs, at Artscape in the Distillery, Toronto, October 17, 2003.
Photo credit: Bill Steigerwald