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Thread: Food for thought - Jane Jacobs was wrong?

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    Default Food for thought - Jane Jacobs was wrong?

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    Currently cities dense cores are being built for the rich, empty nesters, and singles, but I'm not sure how that makes Jacobs wrong. Ideally, what we want is livable spaces for families within the core. Just because that isn't currently happening doesn't mean we should give up on the idea and accept that city centers are only for a small group of people. It's all about how our perception and how we plan. Ten years ago, no one was developing downtown because the perception was that no one wants to live their. Now the perception is that downtown is for the young and the old, and the people with too much money. I think with a bit of work, we can change that perception to hopefully fit a more inclusive and healthy city. Buildings like Hendrix may be the beginning of this, and hopefully the success of the townhomes and other family friendly developments will encourage more of that type of development.

    Also you can have dense, walkable living outside the core. Just because the city center doesn't currently support family lifestyle, doesn't mean there can't be other dense areas that do. This article focuses too much on the cores of cities, and ignores that you can have urban family living outside of it.

    Just my thoughts after a quick read over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by seamusmcduffs View Post
    Ideally, what we want is livable spaces for families within the core.
    Why? I never understood this. Why does every community have to be a child friendly community, can't we have some adult communities? I like, that at the moment, people do the urban lifestyle thing, get married, move to burbs / inner city for the kids, then come back to urban later. To me that's perfect - uses all the communities in our city and recycles different people through them at different stages in their lives.

    I do think the concerns about pricing people out are valid, and it does concern me re some the utopian plans you see for places like the Quarters, or even whats happening in East Village in Calgary (which looks great, but not so nice for those who can't afford it anymore).

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    Central Edmonton family friendly, the Downtown yes please but clearly not low-hanging fruit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Why? I never understood this. Why does every community have to be a child friendly community, can't we have some adult communities?
    Fair enough. But the writer seems to think that if families aren't living in the core, then they have to live in the sprawling suburbs, which isn't the case.

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    Old news. Jacobs herself acknowledges and addresses some of these criticisms in both The Nature of Economies and The Dark Age Ahead.

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    Most cities have multiple cores in addition to downtown. In fact I believe (though I would have to look it up), that the area that Jacobs was talking about was not downtown. It was the centre of a different neighborhood.

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    I think that Jacobs was right in the sense that dense, amenity-rich neighbourhoods should be made in a manner that is ideal for families.

    The issue is simple economics and consumer preference. Currently, families value space and privacy. This means that the demand side of housing is a function price AND size/privacy.

    However, keep in mind that price includes distance cost, which includes both time and financial expense. So currently, people select their home to maximize space and privacy at equilibrium prices which are dependent on distance.

    We therefore have two options:

    1) Change consumer preference.

    2) Alter the cost of space and privacy.

    I personally believe that the second one is easier to achieve, and actually leads the first one. We can do it in many ways. You could increase the cost of developing low-density areas, lower the cost of developing high-density areas, increase the time/ease cost (less road infrastructure) of getting to suburbs, or reduce the time/ease cost of getting around core areas.

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    I feel the writer falls into the trap that gentrification is bad, so therefore its a failure of the city. Gentrification is much like rising housing prices, or increasing traffic congestion. The only thing worse than it is NOT having it.

    Also, you have to keep in mind the era she was in and the accepted dogma at the time. Her main ideas are still solid.
    - Cities function differently than small towns and villages, because almost by definition, they are made up of strangers
    - Cities are complex, and the seemingly chaos and disorder of them is their strength, not their weaknesss, and should be viewed as an organic process.
    - neighborhoods function best when they serve multiple uses. At least two, but more is better.
    - children can live and thrive in cities (and she provided context how this happens.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by EveB View Post
    Most cities have multiple cores in addition to downtown. In fact I believe (though I would have to look it up), that the area that Jacobs was talking about was not downtown. It was the centre of a different neighborhood.
    Jane Jacobs lived in , I believe, a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Now it is probably a very expensive yuppyish area, but at the time it was a working class neighborhood made up mostly of housing tenaments and townhouses, slated to be torn down for a new expressway.

    She did believe in high density neighborhoods, but she qualified that quite a bit, and I think both proponents and detractors of her arguments take what she had to say about density out of context.
    Last edited by Snake Eyes; 06-08-2015 at 04:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snake Eyes View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by EveB View Post
    Most cities have multiple cores in addition to downtown. In fact I believe (though I would have to look it up), that the area that Jacobs was talking about was not downtown. It was the centre of a different neighborhood.
    Jane Jacobs lived in , I believe, a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Now it is probably a very expensive yuppyish area, but at the time it was a working class neighborhood made up mostly of housing tenaments and townhouses, slated to be torn down for a new expressway.

    She did believe in high density neighborhoods, but she qualified that quite a bit, and I think both proponents and detractors of her arguments take what she had to say about density out of context.
    she also lived in a time where growth was expected to continue on a linear basis in terms of what would need to be accommodated.

    as such, she along with everyone else - assumed some things as constant that were/are/won't be and that's where things usually fall apart from a master planning perspective. at a macro scale, this is representative of age demographics for canada but it is typical for much of the world and moreso for the developed world:


    it's been said by some that zoning can be a redundant function in that it can at best reflect what is already there.

    at its best zoning can "prohibit" some things from happening but it cannot "make" anything happen (in edmonton we need only to look at station pointe to see that).

    if you plan - and zone - on the assumption that 1956 [replace with year of your choice here] was the norm and everything influencing the norm would continue, your planning is just not going to work very well in satisfying the needs of 2056 [replace with 100 years after your year of choice above].
    "If you did not want much, there was plenty." Harper Lee

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    I really don't like where that blue blob is taking me.

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    I was curious about what Jane Jacobs had to say about density, so I looked it up.

    I also found this great discussion about it: Jane Jacobs-style Density: It may not be what you think .

    There was a really good reply to the post's author from her son too, so if you're interested, be sure to read that.

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    I find the title for this piece very misleading. Jane Jacobs was not speaking in the guise of a futurist, she was describing her vision of a workable city. I'm not sure that she would approve of a city that is designed only for the very rich having support people commuting in. She also did not insist that the city be a downtown surrounded by a homogenous suburbs.

    Her emphasis was on having a city with workable neighborhoods (plural) which allowed most essential services (and their workers) to be within a reasonable distance so that a community could be formed. I'm not sure she was "wrong" about the questions she was exploring. She might be "wrong" about telling the future.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snake Eyes View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by EveB View Post
    Most cities have multiple cores in addition to downtown. In fact I believe (though I would have to look it up), that the area that Jacobs was talking about was not downtown. It was the centre of a different neighborhood.
    Jane Jacobs lived in , I believe, a townhouse in Greenwich Village. Now it is probably a very expensive yuppyish area, but at the time it was a working class neighborhood made up mostly of housing tenaments and townhouses, slated to be torn down for a new expressway.

    She did believe in high density neighborhoods, but she qualified that quite a bit, and I think both proponents and detractors of her arguments take what she had to say about density out of context.
    Its an important point that anybodies perspective can be time and place based. To that end not surprising that Jacobs was reared and lived in such environments. Understanding that is part of comprehending what she was espousing.

    I fail to see how Jacobs was wrong. Gentrification in present day is largely a result of corporate takeover and uber development in society and something that Jacobs would also be fervently against. Nor would Jacobs approve of the world being divided up by multinationals who are in complete control of the globe resulting in invasive influence of any level of government anywhere and a big business dominance invoked in any political office. The results that have come since Jacobs are results of global big business domination and of a dying middle class and increased stratification of wealth and the top 1% owning more and more.

    On the contrary had the world listened to Jacobs more they would have much more resistance, rebellion, to the bastards that take this world and want to buy it and make it their own.
    "if god exists and he allowed that to happen, then its better that he doesn't exist"

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    This is less about Jacobs than about the inhuman policies favored by the rich and the mindless that are not rich but spout every lie to justify the rich.

    The gentrification problem, or more precisely the polarization of urban space between extremes of wealth and poverty, is not a new one. It existed for ages, and with technology became bad enough to spawn unspeakably violent and wholly inevitable revolutions in many countries a hundred or so years ago.

    It was fixed by peacefully emasculating the right wing -- through steep incremental taxation and other measures.

    Where land was cheap, the newly dominant middle class made space for itself in the suburbs. Where it was not, a "progressive" but in fact merely rational urbanism came about.

    Urbanism in Canada is hopeless. Land is too cheap here. "Progressive" hipsters are usually non-working office rats with a mindless attraction to laissez faire. The fiscal system has become a total joke.

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