Block by Block

Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York

Timothy Mennel, Jo Steffens, Christopher Klemek

     8 × 10 in (20.3 × 25.4 cm)
64 pages
12 color illustrations, 10 b/w illustrations
Publication date: 1/1/2008
Rights: World
ISBN: 9781568987712

"This book is an attack on current city planning and rebuilding." From this first sentence of the seminal 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs gave voice to those who believed the bulldozing, postwar policies of urban renewal were a dangerous threat to city life. She spent the next forty-five years challenging citizens to stand up for vibrant, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods such as New York's Greenwich Village. Jane Jacobs's death in 2006 occasioned the beginnings of a critical re-evaluation of her achievements. With major new development plans--for sites from the East River to the West Side and from Lower Manhattan to Queens--either under consideration or in progress, it seems the perfect time to assess the relevance of her ideas for contemporary urban life.

Block by Block is a far-ranging collection of essays about Jane Jacobs from an impressive group of writers and cultural critics including Marshall Berman, Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Gopnik, Paul Goldberger, Tama Janowitz, Ben Katchor, Phillip Lopate, Luc Sante, Bill "Reverend Billy" Talen, Colson Whitehead, and Tom Wolfe. This impressive lineup of contributors discusses the contemporary relevance of Jacobs' ideas about large-scale redevelopment, gentrification, and activism. While their viewpoints on these issues may differ, they continue the important debate begun by Jacobs about the challenges facing New York and other great cities everywhere.

Block by Block is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, which created the Jane Jacobs Medal in 2007 to recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to thinking about urban design, specifically in New York City. It is published in collaboration with the Municipal Art Society of New York to accompany their Fall 2007 exhibition Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York.

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