The Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

4.31 (8,198 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 2 business days
When will my order arrive?


In this classic text, Jane Jacobs set out to produce an attack on current city planning and rebuilding and to introduce new principles by which these should be governed. The result is one of the most stimulating books on cities ever written. Throughout the post-war period, planners temperamentally unsympathetic to cities have been let loose on our urban environment. Inspired by the ideals of the Garden City or Le Corbusier's Radiant City, they have dreamt up ambitious projects based on self-contained neighbourhoods, super-blocks, rigid 'scientific' plans and endless acres of grass. Yet they seldom stop to look at what actually works on the ground. The real vitality of cities, argues Jacobs, lies in their diversity, architectural variety, teeming street life and human scale. It is only when we appreciate such fundamental realities that we can hope to create cities that are safe, interesting and economically viable, as well as places that people want to live more

Product details

  • Paperback | 480 pages
  • 154 x 235 x 35mm | 622g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0712665838
  • 9780712665834
  • 158,147

About Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1916, and now lives in Toronto, Canada. She is also the author of The Economy of Cities, The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and Systems of Survival. She died in more

Review Text

Described as "an attack of current city planning and rebuilding", this book by a noted architectural writer and editor of Architectural Forum makes required reading for anyone concerned with the plight of American urban decay today. Mrs. Jacobs, central figure of a current and much-publicized fight to prevent the demolition of an historic area of Greenwich Village in New York City, is a staunch opponent of the big project, the "slum clearance" operation which leaves a neighhood without character or cohesion. She claims there is no relationship between good housing and a low crime rate. She calls for renewal of old buildings without evictions, instead of mass demolitions. She calls for a return to city life, instead of the decentralization which has produced our mindless, cultureless, sprawling suburbs. In short, she fights for the humanizing forces produced by a democratic balance of all classes within one urban community. Many extremist arguments, but all presented with wit, sympathy, and fine writing skill. An urgent comment which should not be missed. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Table of contents

**1: Introduction* Part One: The Peculiar Nature of Cities**2: The uses of sidewalks: safety*3: The uses of sidewalks: contact*4: The uses of sidewalks: assimilating children*5: The uses of neighbourhood parks*6: The uses of city neighbourhoods* Part Two: The Conditions for City Diversity**7: The generators of diversity*8: The need for mixed primary uses*9: The need for small blocks*10: The need for aged buildings*11: The need for concentration*12: Some myths about diversity* Part Three: Forces of Decline and Regeneration**13: The self-destruction of diversity*14: The curse of border vacuums*15: Unslumming and slumming*16: Gradual money and cataclysmic money* Part Four: Different Tactics**17: Subsidizing dwellings*18: Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles*19: Visual order: its limitations and possibilities*20: Salvaging projects*21: Governing and planning districts*22: The kind of problem a city isshow more

Review quote

"The most refreshing, provacative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense" -- Harrison Salisbury New York Times "One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city... a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious it is the eye and the heart but it has given us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city" -- William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man "Perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning... Jacobs has a powerful sense of narrative, a lively wit, a talent for surprise and the ability to touch the emotions as well as the mind" New York Times Book Review "An immensely provocative and rewarding book... It challenges comfortable assumptions...but it does so in a manner that is neither rancorous nor contentions" -- Jonathan Yardley Washington Postshow more

Rating details

8,198 ratings
4.31 out of 5 stars
5 49% (4,033)
4 36% (2,969)
3 12% (975)
2 2% (187)
1 0% (34)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X