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Jane Jacobs, the iconoclastic urban activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) died yesterday in her home in Toronto. Jacobs was a fearless and vocal critic who was one of the was one of the first people to write a compelling argument against the tabula rasa Robert Moses-style “urban renewal” which was fashionable at the time � residential high-rise development, expressways through city hearts, slum clearances, and desolate downtowns (one of the nastier by-products of utopian modernism). New Yorkers should remember her especially fondly, as she almost single-handedly saved Soho, Chinatown and Greenwich village by vigorously fighting Moses’ planned expressway between Manhattan Bridge and the Holland tunnel in the early 1960′s.
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