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Journalist, Activist and Author

Jane Jacobs was an American journalist, activist and author, who spent the latter part of her life in Canada. She is for the most part distinguished for her views on the evolution of cities from societal point of view. Jacobs is largely well-known for having been working at the grassroots level in order to put up her protest against the building of the Lower Manhattan Expressway that would have had significant effect on the populations in Soho. Jacobs having penned the book ‘The Life and Death of Great American Cities’, published in 1961 highlighted that most of the urban development efforts did not take into account the suffering of those who lived in the city. This book residues one of the most distinguished books on cities. Jacobs was a profound philosopher and one of the most significant supporter of conscious town planning. Here is a compilation of some of her most influential excerpts from her works, books, writings, interviews, speeches and life.

1. Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.

2. To seek causes of poverty in this way is to enter an intellectual dead end because poverty has no causes. Only prosperity has causes.

3. By its nature, the metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by travelling; namely, the strange.

4. Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of our communities.

5. There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.

6. You can’t rely on bringing people downtown, you have to put them there.

7. Cities differ from towns and suburbs in basic ways, and by definition, denser and full of strangers.

8. Being human is itself difficult, and therefore all kinds of settlements have problems. Big cities have difficulties in abundance, because they have people in abundance.

9. Traffic congestion is caused by vehicles, not by people in themselves.

10. frequent streets and short blocks are valuable because of the fabric of intricate cross-use that they permit among the users of a city neighbourhood.

11. We expect too much of new buildings, and too little of ourselves.

12. Everyone is aware that tremendous numbers of people concentrate in city downtowns and that, if they did not, there would be no downtown to amount to anything — certainly not one with much downtown diversity.

13. A vigorous culture capable of making corrective, stabilizing changes depends heavily on its educated people, and especially upon their critical capacities and depth of understanding.

14. When distance and convenience sets in; the small, the various and the personal wither away.

15. It has long been recognized that getting an education is effective for bettering oneself and one’s chances in the world. But a degree and an education are not necessarily synonymous.

16. City areas with flourishing diversity sprout strange and unpredictable uses and peculiar scenes. But this is not a drawback of diversity. This is the point … of it.

17. There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.

18. Sentimentality about nature denatures everything it touches.

19. The point of cities is multiplicity of choice.

20. To approach a city as if it were an Architectural problem is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life; The results are neither life nor art; They are taxidermy.

21. Cities are problems in organized complexity, like the life sciences.

22. There must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other.

23. The city must mingle buildings that vary in age and conditions, including a good proportion of old ones so that they vary in economic yield they must produce. this mingling must be fairly close grained.

24. By its nature, the Metropolis provides what otherwise could be given only by travelling.

25. Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because and only when they are created for everybody.

26. Automobiles are often conveniently tagged as the villains responsible for the ills of the cities and disappointments and futilities of city planning. but the destructive effect of automobiles are much less a cause than a symptom of our incompetence at city building.

27. The city and indeed as many of its internal parts as possible, must serve more than one primary function, preferably more than two.