A painting of me

The Death and Life of Great American Cities

   10 August 2005, early morning

Shima and I are now the proud owners of The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Jacob’s now lives in Toronto—respect. I don’t know much about planning, so reading the introduction to the book was enlightening. It sounds like Jacobs really dug in to the established planning academia. I wonder if her ideas are in use some 30 years later.

So far I have learned that one of the earliest modern planning movements was the Garden City movement, fronted by Sir Ebenezer Howard in his book Garden Cities of To-Morrow. The idea was to basically move people out of the cities into sparsely populated baby cities with big green belts. Two cities were built using this model: Letchworth and Welwyn. I spent my childhood in Welwyn Garden City, whose name now has much more meaning for me.

So far the book has struck me as well written and well thought out.

There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.



  1. Yay, I’m glad you like the book. Now you’ll get all our nicknames on our volleyball team! (I was Ebenezer Howard!)

  2. What does the book have to say about Seattle?

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