The Death and Life of Great American Cities

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Vintage Books, 1961 - Social Science - 458 pages
13 Reviews
A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured. In prose of outstanding immediacy, Jane Jacobs writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighborhood, and what function it serves within the larger organism of the city; about why some neighborhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She writes about the salutary role of funeral parlors and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too little diversity. Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs's monumental work provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.

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This book is incredibly insightful and made me think about cities completely differently. It's also really well written and enjoyable to read.

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This book is out of print, but if you are looking for it, you can get brand new copies of the 1989 version from
As for the book, it was written in 1961 as an "attack
planning and rebuilding." It chronicles the successes, failures, and misconceptions surrounding urban planning.
Beautiful, readable prose make this a truly readable book for the student of sociology, urban history, local politics, or civil engineering.



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About the author (1961)

Jane Jacobs was the legendary author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a work that has never gone out of print and that has transformed the disciplines of urban planning and city architecture. Her other major works include The Economy of Cities, Systems of Survival, The Nature of Economies and Dark Age Ahead. She died in 2006.

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