Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses

As we ponder appropriate urban development strategies in the booming cities of India, reconsideration of fights between alternative positions in the "urban renewal" fights in New York. Always insightful Edward Glaeser reviews a new book by Anthony Flint entitled Wrestling with Moses: How Jane Jacobs Took on New York's Master Builder and Transformed the American City in an articled published on September 4, 2009 in The New Republic. It is worth a read for those interested in urban development -- which means anyone interested in India, or China -- as well as the rest of us who will be affected by development in those areas. He concludes by saying that cities need a combination of Jacob's humanism, concern for pedestrians, and creating opportunities for random (positive) encounters in vital human-scale neighborhoods, and Moses' concern for building of long-lasting and needed infrastructure.

I see this tussle everyday as I read about what is happening in Bangalore, and Mumbai. Yes, one laments huge high rises that intimidate, yet only low buildings lead to prices that are unaffordable for mere mortals, combined with lack of alternatives yet a demand for low-skilled labor, leads to expansion of slums. You will certainly read more about this in the future, at least if you keep reading this blog, as this topic is something I am spending more time on at work these days.


J. Luke said...

Hi Robin.
I read the article by Flint. Very interesting. I had read Power Broker (dad had the book) but I had never heard of Jacobs. Will need to read her book as well.

Hope everyone is good.

zcd said...

We probably need some of both, by I want to hang out with Jane Jacobs.

I read CSTEPs copy of "The Economy of Cities" in March. (I had only previously read "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" and "Dark Age Ahead")

Still stunning after all these years! I love her alternate history of the birth of agriculture, as stemming from a pre-agricultural urbanism. Has anyone ever given this though experiment any consideration / research or has it been thoroughly discounted?

Maybe before I leave in June I can print out and tape together my Jane Jacobs papercraft sculpture, or feel free to download it and build your own here:

(Bucky and Ben Franklin also available :)