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.

Her first book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is a must-read for anyone interested in urban development and planning. Metropolis magazine has a great interview of Jacobs from 2001:

+ Metropolis Interview
+ New Yorker profile

photos courtesy

and the Ontario Media Development Corporation