Codruta Grosu on Jane Jacobs

* Professor’s comment on presentation below:

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Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the IMBA Seminar on Sustainable Development, Economy and Democracy of the Institut Supérieur de Gestion, Paris, March 2015.

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* Professor’s comment on presentation

I have to intervene briefly here with respect to the citation of Adele Freedman quoted by Codruta Grosu from an article that appeared in  The Globe and Mail in Mrs. Jacob’s adopted home of Toronto.  Mrs. Freedman wrote: “Thanks to Jacobs, ideas once considered lunatic, such as mixed-use development, short blocks, and dense concentrations of people working and living downtown, are now taken for granted.”

Hmm lunatic, not quite right! My problem with this is that I knew Mrs Jacobs well and collaborated with her occasionally going back to the beginning of her writing career and influence, and the word “lunatic” was certainly not appropriate to her work or even the reception of her ideas. True, she was largely ignored and looked down on by many main-line planners, specialists and university planning departments in the early years after her most famous book appeared – Death and Life in Great American Cities.  But from the beginning her ideas, energy and persistence began to first to undercut and then to reshape the entire field of city planning.  Death and Life of Great American Cities, became one of the most influential American texts about the inner workings and failings of our cities, inspiring generations of urban planners and activists. Mrs. Jacobs had no professional training as a city planner; instead, she relied on her observations and common sense to show why certain places work, and what can be done to improve those that do not. (More at

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