jane jacobs

jane jacobs

remembering Jane Jacobs:

2 min – wonderful complex web of things.. that makes city was it is .. this ocean…


Neighborhoods in Action

everybody needs networks of other people

 Dark Age Ahead

4 min – families are almost rigged to failure in public policy, ie: homelessness, families w/median incomes can’t find houses w/median costs, housing going up because costs of houses inflated but borrowing/mortgages aren’t

6 min – even worse than lack of resources.. lack of autonomy…

9 min – when people feel helpless..

10 min – uni’s as credential factories – credentialism is trumping education

16 min – to stop the decay – pay attention to feedback – homelessness is feedback – gentrification is feedback – 


Jane gives a half hour talk at the National Building Museum after receiving the Vincent Scully Prize on November 11, 2000. Jacobs was the author of “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”.


find/follow Jane’s work:

wikipedia small

Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an American-Canadian journalist, author, and activist best known for her influence on urban studies. Her influential book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of most city-dwellers. The book also introduced sociology concepts such as “eyes on the street” and “social capital”.

Jacobs is well known for organizing grassroots efforts to protect existing neighborhoods from “slum clearance”—and particularly for her opposition to Robert Moses in his plans to overhaul her neighborhood of Greenwich Village. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which would have passed directly through Washington Square Park, and was arrested in 1968 for inciting a crowd at a public hearing on the project. After moving to Canada in 1968 she joined the opposition to the Spadina Expressway and the associated network of expressways in Toronto planned and under construction.

As a female writer and mother who criticized experts in the male-dominated field of urban planning, Jacobs endured scorn from established figures, who called her a “housewife” and a “crazy dame”. She did not have a college degree in urban planning, and was also criticized for being unscholarly and imprecise. She has been accused of inattention to racial inequality, and her concept of “unslumming” has been compared with gentrification.


Through her life, she fought to alter the way in which city development was approached. By arguing that cities were living beings and ecosystems, she advocated ideas such as “mixed use” development and bottom-up planning. 

Jane Jacobs will be remembered as being an advocate for the mindful development of cities and has left “a legacy of empowerment for citizens to trust their common sense and become advocates for their place”.

It may be that we have become so feckless as a people that we no longer care how things do work, but only what kind of quick, easy outer impression they give. If so, there is little hope for our cities or probably for much else in our society. But I do not think this is so.  – Jane Jacobs 1961

At a time when both common and inspired wisdom called for bulldozing slums and opening up city space, Ms. Jacobs’s prescription was ever more diversity, density and dynamism — in effect, to crowd people and activities together in a jumping, joyous urban jumble.  – Douglas Martin, ny times, 2006


death and life of cities

book links to amazon

written in 1961


book via

wikipedia small

The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a 1961 book by writer and activist Jane Jacobs. The book is a critique of 1950s urban planning policy, which it holds responsible for the decline of many city neighborhoods in the United States. Going against the common wisdom of the age, it proposes new ideas that it says would ensure organic vibrancy in urban America.

Reserving her most vitriolic criticism for the “rationalist” planners (specifically Robert Moses) of the 1950s and 1960s, Jacobs argued that modernist urban planning rejects the city, because ..

it rejects human beings living in a community characterized by layered complexity and seeming chaos.

The modernist planners used deductive reasoning to find principles by which to plan cities. Among these policies she considered urban renewal the most violent, and separation of uses (i.e., residential, industrial, commercial) the most prevalent. These policies, she claimed, destroy communities and innovative economies by creating isolated, unnatural urban spaces.


The Death and Life of Great American Cities

notes on book:

p. 75 – the uses of sidewalks: assimilating children (taking them in):

guggenheim was working on a film depicting the activities of a st louis children’s day care center. he noticed that at the end of the afternoon roughly half the children left with the greatest reluctance.

guggenheim became sufficiently curious to investigate. with out exception, the children who left unwillingly came from a nearby housing project. and without exception again, those who left willingly came from the old “slum” streets nearby. the mystery, guggenheim found, was simplicity itself. the children returning to the project, with its generous playgrounds and lawns, ran a gauntlet of bullies who made them turn out their pockets or submit to a beating , sometimes both. these small children could not get home each day without enduring an ordeal that they dreaded. the children going back to the old streets were safe from extortion, guggenheim found. they had many streets to select from, and they astutely chose the safest. if anybody picked on them, there was always a storekeeper they could run to or somebody to come to their aid,.. they also had any number of ways of escaping along different routes if anybody was laying for them. these little kids felt safe and cocky and they enjoyed their trip home too. guggenheim made the related observation of how boring the project’s landscaped grounds and playgrounds were, how deserted they seemed, and in contrast how rich in interest, variety and material for both the camera and the imagination were the older streets nearby.

p. 76: street gangs do their street fighting predominately in parks and playgrounds.

p. 82: in real life, only from the ordinary adults of he city sidewalks do children learn – if they learn it at all – the first fundamental of successful city life: people must take a mondicum of public responsibility for each other even if they  have no ties to each other. this is a lesson nobody learns by being told.

culture of trusttrust is a drug


p. 83: this is instruction in city living that people hired to look after children cannot teach, because the essence of this responsibility is that you do it without being hired. it is a lesson that parents, by themselves, are powerless to teach. if parents take minor public responsibility for strangers or neighbors in a society where nobody else does, this simply means that the parents are embarrassingly different and meddlesome, not that this is the proper way to behave. such instruction must come from society itself, and in cities, if it comes, it comes almost entirely during the time children spend at incidental play on the sidewalks.

p. 84: the fascination of street life for city children has long been noted by recreation experts, usually with disapproval. back in 1928, the regional plan assoc of ny, in a report which remains to this day the most exhaustive american study of big-city recreation, has this to say:  … (paraphrase): about 1/7 of population between 5 and 15 are found in manufactured playgrounds. streets are huge competition. 

p. 85: the same report then deplores the stubborn tendency of children to “fool around” instead of playing “recognized games.” (recognized by whom?)

Colin Ward – ness

p. 86: the requisite for any of these varieties of incidental play is not pretentious equipment of any sort, but rather space at an immediately convenient and interesting place.

p. 87: the narrower the sidewalks, the more sedentary incidental play becomes.

few sidewalks of this luxurious width can be found (30-35 ft wide). sidewalk width is invariably sacrificed for vehicular width, partly because city sidewalks are conventionally considered to be purely space for pedestrian travel and access to buildings, and go unrecognized and unrespected as the uniquely vital and irreplaceable organs of city safety, public life and child rearing that they are.

p. 117: neighborhoods in cities need not supply for their people an artificial town or village life, and to aim at this is both silly and destructive. but neighborhoods in cities do need to supply some means for civilized self-govt. this is the problem.

Ed ness

looking at city neighborhoods as organs of self-govt, i can see evidence that only three kinds of neighborhoods are useful: 1) the city as a whole; 2) street neighborhoods; 3) districts of large subcity size, composed of 100,000 people or more in the case of the largest cities.

p. 120: the self-govt functions of streets are all humble, but they are indispensable. in spite of much experiment, planned and unplanned, there exists no substitute for lively streets. 

how large is a city street neighborhood that functions capably? if we look as successful street-neighborhood networks in real life, we find this is a meaningless question, because wherever they work best, street neighborhoods have no beginnings and ends setting them apart as distinct units.

rhizo ness – how many ness

p. 121: the district. this, i think, is where we are typically most weak and fail most disastrously. we have plenty of city districts in name. we have few that function.

the chief function of a successful district is to mediate between the indispensable, but inherently politically powerless, street neighborhoods, and the inherently powerful city as a whole.

p. 129: almost nobody travels willingly from sameness to sameness and repetition to repetition, even if the physical effort required is trivial.

p. 130: difference, not duplications, make for cross-use and hence for a person’s identification with an area greater than his immediate street network. monotony is the enemy of cross-use and hence of functional unity.

p. 133-134: time in cities, is indispensable. …these people must have time to find each other, time to try expedient cooperation

p. 135: a city requires a small quota of its own mrs roosevelts – people who know unlikely people, and therefore eliminate the necessity for long chains of communication (which in real life could not occur at all)

prior to now…

find your people, hasten the time between intention and action

p. 144: so the first question – and i think by far the most important question – about planning cities is this:

how can cities generate enough mixture among uses – enough diversity – throughout enough of their territories, to sustain their own civilization?

 people experiment ness

p. 144-5: the missing diversity, convenience, interest and vitality do not spring forth because the area needs their benefits.

p. 147: the diversity, of whatever kind, that is generated by cities rests on the fact that in cities so may people are so close together, and among them contain so many different tastes, skills, needs, supplies, and bees in their bonnets.

.. there are enough people to support their presence at short, convenient intervals,… when distance inconvenience sets in, the small, the various and the personal wither away.

mooc idea ness

p. 148: a lively city scene is lively largely by virtue of its enormous collection of small elements.

ni – ness – what tech wants – and can now do for us..

p. 149: they (cities) generate it (diversity) because of the various efficient economic pools of use that they form. (next page referred to as: effective pools of use)  –

Illich ness

p. 150: so long as we are content to believe that city diversity represents accident and chaos, of course its erratic generation appears to represent a mystery.

p. 150: the entire book is about four generators of diversity that must be taken together.. no bits and pieces…to generate exuberant diversity in a city’s streets and districts, four conditions are indispensable:

1. mixed uses, at different (all) times of day

p. 165: without a strong and inclusive central heart, a city tends to become a collection of interests isolated from one another.

p. 171 – american downtowns are not declining mysteriously, because they are anachronisms, nor because their users have been drained away by automobiles. they are being witlessly murdered, in good part by deliberate policies of sorting out leisure uses from work uses, under the misapprehension that this is orderly city planning

p. 177 – given enough federal funds and enough power, planners can easily destroy city primary mixtures faster than these can grow in unplanned districts, so that there is a net loss of basic primary mixture. indeed, this is happening today. (1961)

perhaps for a simple solution to this diversity populating a city at all hours – city as school…

2. short blocks – increase opportunity to change/turn frequent

p. 183 – long blocks, in their nature, thwart the potential advantages that cities offer to incubation, experimentation, and many small or special enterprises, insofar as these depend upon drawing their customers or clients from among much larger cross-sections of passing public. long blocks also thwart the principle that if city mixtures of use are to be more than a fiction on maps, they must result in different people, bent on different purposes, appearing at different times, but using the same streets.

fitting to think of blocks of time – and learning.. what mooc idea ness is (could be) after i think.


bravery to change mind – 24/7 ness

3. buildings of various ages and states of repair

p. 188 – old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. new ideas must use old buildings. .. too economically/functionally limiting

p. 189 – time makes the high building costs of one generation the bargains of a following generation.

p. 192 – … the inherent efficiency, in cities, of mingled age and inherently varied overhead.

p. 193 – in successful cities, old buildings filter up. newness and its superficial gloss of well-being, is a very perishable commodity

p. 194 – some people would rather pay for improvements in their living conditions partly in labor and ingenuity, and by  selecting which improvements are most important to them, instead of being indiscriminately improved, and all at a cost of money.

iwan baanteddy cruz – ness

cross generational expertise ness

4. density

 p. 205 – one reason why low city densities conventionally have a good name, unjustified by the facts, and why high city densities have a bad name, equally unjustified, is that high densities of dwellings and overcrowding of dwellings are often confused. high densities mean large numbers of dwellings per acre of land. overcrowding means too many people in a dwelling for the number of rooms it contains.

p. 208 – overcrowding within dwellings or rooms, in our country, is almost always a symptom of poverty or of being discriminated against, and it is one (but only one) of many infuriating and discouraging liabilities of being very poor or of  being victimized by residential discrimination, or both. indeed, overcrowding at low densities may be even more depressing and destructive than overcrowding at high densities, because at low densities there is less public life as a diversion and escape, and as a means, too, for fighting back politically as injustices and neglect.

everybody hates overcrowding and those who must endure it hate it worse. almost nobody overcrowds by choice. but people often do live in high-density neighborhoods by choice.

what are proper densities for city dwellings?  the answer to this is something like the answer lincoln gave to the question.. how long should a man’s legs be.. long enough to reach the ground, lincoln said.

just so, proper city dwelling densities are a matter of performance. they cannot be based on abstractions about the quantities of land that ideally should be allotted for so-and-so many people (living in some docile, imaginary society).

densities are too low, or too high, when they frustrate city diversity instead of abetting it. this flaw in performance is why they are too low or too high. .. what is right differs in specific instances.

p. 212 – a numerical answer means less than a functional answer (and unfortunately can even deafen the dogmatic to the truer and more subtle reports that come in from life). but i should judge that numerically the escape from “in-between” densities probably lies somewhere around the figure of 100 dwellings to an acre, under circumstances most congenial in all other respects to producing diversity. as a general rule, i think 100 dwellings per acre will be found to be too low.

the reason dwelling densities can begin repressing diversity if they get too high is this: at some point, to accommodate so many dwellings on the land, standardization of the buildings must set in. this is fatal, because great diversity in age and types of buildings has a direct, explicit connection with diversity of population, diversity of enterprises and diversity of scenes.

p. 214 – no one way is a good way to house a city neighborhood; no mere two or three ways are good. the more variations there can be, the better. as soon as the range and number of variations in buildings decline, the diversity of populations and enterprises is too apt to stay static or decline, instead of increasing.

it is not easy to reconcile high densities with great variety in buildings, yet it must be attempted. anti-city planning and zoning virtually prevent it, as we shall see.

p. 221 – ch 12 – some myths about diversity

intricate minglings of different uses in cities are not a form of chaos. on the contrary, they represent 2 complex and highly developed form of order. everything in this book so far has been directed toward showing how this complex order of mingled uses works. 

choardic ness

p. 222 – these supposed disadvantages are based on images of unsuccessful districts which have not too much, but too little diversity.

superficially, this monotony might be thought of as a sort of order, however dull. but esthetically, it unfortunately also carries with it a deep disorder: the disorder of conveying no direction. in places stamped with the monotony and repetition of sameness you move, but in moving you seem to have gotten nowhere.

p. 224 – it takes differences – many differences – cropping up in different directions to keep us oriented.

the same impulses to look special (in spite of not being special) were at work also in more sophisticated construction: weird roofs, weird stairs, weird colors weird signs, weird anything.

recently mr haskell has observed that similar signs of exhibitionism have been appearing in supposedly dignified establishments.

kiki’s comments/insight..

p. 225 – when we build say, a business area in which all (or practically all) are engaged in earning their livings, or a residential area in which everyone is deep in the demands of domesticity, or a shopping area dedicated to the exchange of cash and commodities – in short, where the patter of human activity contains only one element, it is impossible for the architecture to achieve a convincing variety – convincing of the known facts of human variation. the designer may vary color, texture, and form until his drawing instruments buckle under the strain, proving once more that..

..art is the one medium in which one cannot lie successfully.

p. 226 – homogeneity of uses poses an unavoidable esthetic dilemma: shall the homogeneity look as homogeneous as it is, and be frankly monotonous? or shall it try not to look as homogeneous as it is and go in for eye-catching, but meaningless and chaotic differences? this, in city guise, is the old, familiar esthetic zoning problem of homogeneous suburbs: shall they zone to require conformity in appearance, or shall they zone to prohibit sameness? if to prohibit sameness, where must the line be drawn against what is too nonconforming in design?

p. 227 – sometimes diversity of uses, combined with diversity of age, can even take the curse of monotony off blocks that are far too long – and again without the need for exhibitionism because differences of real substance exist.

reminds me of talking to Kiki..

p. 229 – how to accommodate city diversity well in visual terms, how to respect its freedom while showing visually that it is a form of order..

… lack of city diversity is innately either depressing on the one hand, or vulgarly chaotic on the other.

p. 230 – even a grade school can mean traffic congestion in such a milieu, because children must be carried to school. lack of wide ranges of concentrated diversity can put people into automobiles for almost all their needs. the spaces required for roads and for parking spread everything out still farther, and lead to still greater uses of vehicles..

one for school causing congestion.. and non-use during the day

p. 232 – curiously, the proponents of rigid use controls, who object so firmly to death in the city, seem to object equally firmly to life breaking out in the city.

p. 233 – footnote on this particular block – a mysterious building that could be anything from a school to a craft-factory to a rehabilitation center, and isn’t telling..

p. 237 – Raskin, in his essay on variety, suggested that the greatest flaw in city zoning is that it permits monotony…. perhaps the next greatest flaw is that it ignores scale of use, … where this is an important consideration, or confuses it with kind of use.

p. 241 – the main responsibility of city planning and design would be to develop – insofar as public policy and action can do so – cities that are congenial places for this great range of unofficial plans, ideas and opportunities to flourish along with the flourishing  of the public enterprises.

p. 245 – diversity begs to be

the duplication of the most profitable use is undermined the base of its own attraction, as disproportionate duplication and exaggeration of some single use always does in cities.

and if such a street belongs in a district which , in general, is sorting into one primary use – such as work – there is seldom hope for an spontaneous turn for the better.

p. 246 – they like so much to visualize themselves as always there (on this knoll in the middle of nowhere), that when they finally built they put the house on the knoll. but them the knoll was gone. somehow they had not realized they would destroy it and lose it by supplanting it with themselves.

short blocks good. ongoing duplication bad.

p. 247 – diversity is crowded out by the duplication of success. unless they are handsomely financed to start with or instantly successful (which is seldom the case), new ideas tumble into second-best locations; thereby second-best becomes first-rate, flourishes for a time, and eventually it too is destroyed by the duplication of its own greatest successes.

what it both: 1) handsomely financed (bet on sync)  and 2) instantly successful (tech to hasten)

p. 250 – for some reason, banks insurance companies and prestige offices are consistently the most voracious double-destroyers in this way.

perhaps because they are the least needed in a society of trust..

p. 251 – first, we must understand that self-destruction of diversity is cause by success, not by failure.

p. 252 – the presence of an end product in the milieu of a cell causes the machinery that produces the end product to slow down or to stop. this form of cell behavior dr potter characterzed as “intelligent.” in contrast, a cell that has changed or mutated behaves like an “idiot” in that it continues without feedback regulation to produce even material that it does not require.

i think that last sentence is a fair description of the behaviour of city localities where the success of diversity destroys itself.

suppose we think of successful city areas, for all their extraordinary and intricate economic and social order, as faulty in this fashion. in creating city success, we human beings have created marvels, but we left out feedback. what can we do with cities to make up for this omission?

i doubt that we can provide for cities anything equivalent to a true feedback system, working automatically and with perfection. but i think we can accomplish much with imperfect substitutes.

a qr film ness

p. 253 – .. raising the assessments on city property because of increased profitability of the neighbors, is a powerful means today of forcing excess duplications.

p. 256 – at bottom, this problem of the self-destruction of outstanding success is the problem of getting the supply of vital, diversified city streets and districts into a saner relationship with demand.

p. 257 – massive singe uses in cities have a quality in common with each other. they form borders, and borders in cities usually make destructive neighbors.

p. 259 – the root trouble with borders, as city neighbors, is that they are apt to form dead ends for most users of city streets. they represent, for most people, most of the time, barriers.

borders can thus ten to form vacuums of use adjoining them. or to put it another way, by oversimplifying the use of the city at one place, on a large scale, they tend to simplify the use which people give to the adjoining territory too and this simplification of use – meaning fewer users, with fewer different purposes and destinations at hand – feeds upon itself.

this is serious, because literal and continuous mingling of people, present because of different purposes, is the only device that keeps street safe.

p. 263 – special land (esp in big amounts of space) – is a geographic obstacle, either because it is barred to them or because it contains so little of concern to them.

p. 264 – small parks, if they are popular, knit together their neighborhoods from different sides, and mingle the people from them.

p. 266 – it is quite an achievement to make a splendid carousel seem lost and gloomy, but this has been achieved in central park.

park uses like these should be brought right up to the borders of big parks, and designed as links between the park and its bordering street. they can belong to he world of the street and, on their other side, to the world of the park, and be charming in their double life.

p. 267 – … if it is, as it were, structures to some depth with the regions on either side. it then becomes a seam rather than a barrier, a line of exchange along which two areas are sewn together.

big universities in cities, so far as i can see, have given no thought or imagination to he unique establishments they are. typically the either pretend to be cloistered or countrified places, nostalgically denying their transplantation, or else they pretend to be office buildings. (of course they are neither.)

p. 272 – .. he speaks of the intense attachment of residents to the district, of its highly developed informal social control, of the fact that may residents had modernized or improved the interiors of their apartments – all typical characteristics of an unslumming slum.

Iwan Baan ness – self – organizing

unslumming hinges, paradoxically, on the retention of a very considerable part of a slum population within a slum. it hinges on whether a considerable number of the residents and businessmen of a slum find it both desirable and practical to make and carry out their own plans right there, or whether they must virtually all move elsewhere.

prospect, or wherever..

p. 273 – if the conditions for generating city diversity can be introduced into a neighborhood while it is a slum, and if any indications of unslumming are encouraged rather than thwarted, i believe there is no reason that any slum need be perpetual.

p. 279 – beyond this, people who do stay in an unslumming slum, and improve their lot within the neighborhood, often profess an intense attachment to their street neighborhood. it is a big part of their life. they seem to think that their neighborhood is unique and irreplaceable in all the world, and remarkable valuable in spite of its shortcomings. in this they are correct, for the multitude of relationships and public characters that make up an animated city street neighborhood are always unique, intricate and have the value of the unreproducible original.

p. 280 – if people are going to stay by choice when they have choice, they must have become attached before that time. later is too late.

one of the early symptoms that people are staying by choice is apt to be a drop in population, accompanied neither by an increase in dwelling vacancies nor by a decrease in dwelling densities. in short, a given number of dwellings is being occupies by fewer people. paradoxically, this is a signal of popularity. it means that formerly overcrowded inhabitants who have become economically able to uncrowd are doing so in their old neighborhood instead of abandoning it ot a new wave of the overcrowded.

p. 282 – however, cities need not “bring back” a middle class and carefully protect it like an darticial growth. cities grow the middle class. but to keep it as it grows, to keep it as a stabilizing force in the form of a self-diversified population, means considering the city’s people valuable and worth retaining, right where they are, before they become middle class.

furthermore, although these people at the bottom are hardly successes by most standards, in their street neighborhoods most of them are successes. the make up a vital part of the web of casual public life. the amount of time they devote to street watching and street management makes some of the rest of us parasites upon them.

huge.. this is huge (above) – vital part of web of casual public life….

p. 283 – unslumming begins with those who make modest gains, and with those to whom personal attachments overshadow their individual achievement.

the losses of the most successful or most daring are, in a peculiar fashion, also necessary to the unslumming, i think. for some of those who leave are overcoming one of the terrible problems of most slum populations – the onus of discrimination.

p. 284 – when discrimination is appreciably broken down ouside a ghetto by its more successful progeny, then the old neighborhood has a great burden lifted from it. then it is not longer, necessarily, a mark of inferiority to stay there. it can be a mark of genuine choice.

p. 285 – as in the case of other slums, overcoming of discrimination outside the slum, and unslumming within the slum, ust proceed concurrently. neither can wait for the accomplishment of the other.

sync ness. ni ness

although we americans talk much about the rapidity with which we accept change, this does not apply to rapidity of intellectual change, i am afraid.

mindset ness

p. 287 – impracticality is the rock on which many an unslumming slum is wrecked. impracticality has mostly to do with unavailability of money for improvements, for new buildings, and for commercial enterprises at a time when these needs become urgent and their discouragement crucial.

the very fact that a slum has uncrowded itself makes it an extremely tempting site for whole or partial urban “renewal” clearance.

p. 288 – two great money makers in cities are, on the one hand, unsuccessful, perpetual slums and, on the other hand, high-rent or high-cost areas. an unslumming neighborhood is no longer paying off excessively, as it may once have paid, to exploiting slum landlords who do best with greenhorns nor is it so lush or concentrated a field for policy, drug, vice or protection rackets as is a perpetual slum. on the other hand, neither is it rendering the premium land and building prices associated with the self-destruction of diversity. it is just providing a decent , animated place to live for people who are predominately of modest circumstances, and providing an unspectacular livelihood to the owners of many small enterprises.

thus the only people who object to destruction of an unslumming neighborhood – especially if it has not yet begun drawing newcomers with choice – are those who have businesses there or who live there. if they try to explain to the uncomprehending experts that this is a good place and growing better, nobody pays attention. in every city, such protests are discounted as the howls of people of narrow vision standing in the way of progress and higher tax receipts.

ie: they want to demolish and make it a place for higher paying people et al

p. 290 – when american city slums do unslum, they do so in spite of planning and counter to the ideals of city planning

sounds like Ed..

unslumming and its accompanying self-diversification – possibly the greatest regenerative forces inherent in energetic american metropolitan economies – thus appear, in the murky light of conventional planning and rebuilding wisdom, to represent mere social untidiness and economic confusion, and they are so treated.

a qr – mis\understood – mis\seen

p. 294 – the lacking ness of “gradual money” vs cataclysmic money

…. a job that cannot be begun too soon. but on the other hand, it is also a job that is never over and done with, and never will be, in any given place.

the kind of money necessary for capitalizing upon, building upon and supplementing what exists is gradual money. but this indispensable instrument is lacking.

so maybe we change the whole money thing up along with .. no?

p. 296 – in short, the north end reverted to primitive methods of barter and hoard that worked before there were banking systems. to do so was a given condition for continued unslumming and for community survival

p. 297- Upton Sinclair

back of the yards slum/experiment – on local organization… slogan: we the people will not work out of our own destiny.

p. 307 – lack of money has hardly been the trouble in east harlem

p. 311 – when land is acquired for redevelopment or renewal, it is acquired through the power of eminent domain, a power which belongs only to govts. in addition, threat of acquisition under eminent domain is used to enforce compliance to renewal schemes in parcels of property not actually acquired.

p. 313 – when a life insurance company or a union pension fund pours cataclysmic amounts of money into a regimented project or renewal scheme for a price0tagged population, it is not indulging in behavior somehow necessary to twentieth-century investment funds. it is doing, rather, what society has specifically asked for, and has made possible only by employing quite extraordinary and ruthless social powers

p. 314 – there is no inherent reason why tax funds and public credit cannot be used to speed unslumming instead of slum shifting and slum immuring. methods entirely different from those not employed are possible for subsidizing housing. …

we only do it the other way because we think it is right.

p. 315 – slum shifting has its own efficiencies. it is self-financing.

p. 317 – it is so easy to blame the decay of cities on traffic.. or immigrants.. or whimsies of the middle class. the decay of cities goes deeper and is more complicated. it goes right down to:

what we think we want, and to

our ignorance about how cities work.

p. 321 – most of the aims i have been writing about, aims such as unslumming slums, catalyzing diversity, nurturing lively streets, are unrecognized today as objectives of city planning. therefore, planners and the agencies of action that carry out plans possess neither strategies nor tactics for carrying out such aims.

however, although city planning lacks tactics for building cities that can work like cities, it does possess plenty of tactics. they are aimed at carrying out strategic lunacies. unfortunately, they are effective.

p. 322 – … we become the prisoners of our tactics, seldom looking behind them at the strategies.

did public housing fail completely? hosing expert Charles Abrams has asked, after castigating it as ill-conceived for its purposes and as having, in combination with urban-renewal clearance, attained “absurdity.”

he went on to answer:

no, it proved many things.. it proved that large blighted areas are assemblable, replannable and rebuildable. it won public acceptance of large-scale urban improvement and established the legal base for it. it proved that.. housing bonds are aaa investments; that public provision of shelter is a govt duty; that the housing authority mechanism can at least operate without graft. all this is no small accomplishment.

all that is indeed no small accomplishment. the devices of large-scale clearance, slum shifting , slum immuring, project planning, income sorting, use sorting have become so fixed as planning images and as collections of tactics that city rebuilders, and most ordinary citizens too face a blank when they try to think of  city rebuilding without these means. to get past this obstacle, we must understand the original misconception on which the rest of the fancy structure rests.

p. 323 – the thicket of confusion about the workings of cities which has grown around and upon the subsidized housing project notion is no longer just in our minds. by now it is also a thicket of legislative, financial, architectural and analytical devices applied to cities.


but let us see how involuted and rigid these reasons can become – have become – by giving another seemingly simple but slightly different answer to the question: what is the reason for subsidizing dwellings in cities?

the answer we long ago accepted went like this: the reason we need dwelling subsidies is to provide for that part of the population which cannot be housed by private enterprise.

and, the answer went on, so long as this is necessary anyway, the subsidized dwellings should embody and demonstrate the principles of good housing and planning.

this is a terrible answer, with terrible consequences.

p. 324 – quicker than the eye can see, however, “people who cannot be housed by private enterprise” have been turned into a statistical group with peculiar shelter requirements, like prisoners, on the basis of one statistic: their income. to carry out the rest of the answer, this statistical group becomes a special collection of guinea pigs for utopians to mess around with.


even if the utopians had had schemes that made sense socially in cities, it is wrong to set one part of the population, segregated by income, apart in its own neighborhoods with its own different scheme of community. separate but equal makes nothing but trouble in a society where people are not taught that caste is a part of the divine order. separate but better is an innate contradiction wherever the separateness is enforced by one form of inferiority.

p. 325 – because we lack any ideology that puts govt as the landlord and owner of public housing in context with the rest of our national life, we have no sense about how to contend with such a thing. the bureaucracies that build and run these places – alway sin terror lest their capricious masters, the taxpayers, find fault with the tenants’ housekeeping, morals or standards of amenity and blame the bureaucrats – are in some things impossibly arrogant and in others impossibly timid.

because the govt is a landlord, it is in potential competition with private landlords, and to prevent the competition from being unfair, cartel arrangements are necessary. the population itself must be cartelized, with people moved from the province of one cartel to another on the basis of the money they make.

the answer that these are people “who cannot be housed by private enterprise” was absolutely disastrous for cities too. quicker than the eye can see, the city as an organism has disappeared. it becomes, in theory, a static collection of sites for planting these sorted-out sets of statistics.

from the beginning, the whole conception was irrelevant to the nature of the problem, irrelevant to the plain financial need of the people concerned, irrelevant to the needs and workings of cities, irrelevant to the rest of our economic system, and even irrelevant to the meaning of home as it has evolved otherwise in our tradition.

the best that can be said of the conception is that it did afford a chance to experiment with some physical and social planning theories which did not pan out..


so crazy that we spend so much time today flapping about experiments being done on us.. when perhaps that’s all life is.. experiment. and we need to spend more time/energy on thinking about offense on experiments that matter – that are relevant to live people.. than word-battling-defense on ones that don’t/aren’t..

p. 326 – this method i am proposing can be called the guaranteed-rent method. the physical units involved would be buildings, not projects – buildings to go among other buildings, old and new, on city streets. these guaranteed-rent buildings would be of different kinds and sizes, depending on their kind of neighborhood, the size of the plot, and all such considerations as normally influence the size and type of more or less average dwellings.

1 – initial $ to owner  2- guaranteed rent paid to owner  3 – look at income of tenants..

..this is no vague, futile and humiliating transaction in all=purpose uplift of the human soul. it is a dignified, businesslike transaction in shelter rental, no more, no less.

p. 335 – this observation is, obliquely, a warning against the limitations of my own prescriptions in this book. i think they make sense for things as they are, which is the only place ever possible to begin. but that does not mean that they would make the best sense, or even good sense, after our cities has undergone substantial improvement and great increase in vitality. nor may they make sense if the current mishandling of our cities continues, and we lose constructive forms of behavior and forces on which we can still depend and still build.

cool. on staying alive.

p. 336 – why is it just occurring to us to see if the slums themselves have some of the ingredients of a good housing policy?

p. 337 – we need new tactics for subsidizing dwellings, but hardly because the existing tactics need fiddling and diddling with. we need them because we require different aims of city building, and new energy for overcoming slums and for retaining diversity of population, too, in places that are no longer slums. the different aims and the new strategy need their own appropriate and entirely different tactics.


p. 338 – city character is blurred until every place becomes more like every other place, all adding up to noplace.

p. 339 – it is questionable how much of the destruction wrought by automobiles on cities is really a response to transportation and traffic needs, and how much of it is owing to sheer disrespect for other city needs, uses and functions. like city rebuilders who face a blank when they try to think of what to do instead of renewal projects, because they know of no other respectable principles for city organization, …. [..] .. it is impossible for responsible and practical men to discard unfit tactics – even when the results of their own work cause them misgivings – if the alternative is to be left with confusion as to what to try instead and why.

good transportation and communication are not only among the most difficult things to achieve; they are also basic necessities. the point of cities is multiplicity of choice.

huge – choice begs network (transport & communication)

p. 343 – the present relationship between cities and automobiles represents, in short, one of those jokes that history sometimes plays on progress… [..]

but automobiles are hardly inherent destroyers of cities. if we could stop telling ourselves fairy tales about the suitability and charm of nineteenth-century streets for horse-and-buggy traffic (goes on to tell bad of that time)

we went awry by replacing, in effect, each horse on the crowded city streets with half a dozen or so mechanized vehicles, instead of using each mechanized vehicle to replace half a doze or so horses.

p. 344 – today, those in despair at the war between those potential allies, automobiles and cities, are apt to depict the impasse as a war between automobiles and pedestrians. (talks of ie’s where we fostered greater complexity rather than greater simplicity to solve ie: walkable ness)

p. 348 – even for children the point may be less to segregate the cars than to reduce the domination by cars and combat the erosion of sidewalk play space by cars. it would, of course, be ideal to dispose of cars entirely on city streets where children play; but worse troubles sill are harvested if this means disposing of the other utilitarian purposes of sidewalks, and along with them, supervision. sometimes such schemes, too, are automatically self-canceling.

life attracts life.

where pedestrian separation is undertaken as some sort of abstract nicety and too many forms of life and activity go unaccommodated or are suppressed to make the nicety work, the arrangement goes unappreciated.

p. 349 – in the absence of city diversity, people in large settlements are probably better off in cars than on foot. unmanageable city vacuums are by no means preferable to unmanageable city traffic.

depending on which pressure wins most of the victories, on of two processes occurs: erosion of cities by automobiles, or attrition of automobiles by cities.

erosion of cities by automobiles is thus an example of what is know as “positive feedback.” in cases of positive feedback, and action produces a reaction which in turn intensifies the condition responsible for the first action. this intensifies the need for repeating the first action, which in turn intensifies the reaction, and so on, ad infinitum. it is something like the grip of a habit=forming addiction.

p. 351 – as Gruen pointed out here, the more space that is provided cars in cities, the greater becomes the need for use of cars, and hence for still more space for them.

p. 355 – one seemingly logical step is taken after another, each step plausible and apparently defensible in itself; and the peculiar result is a form of city which is not easier to use and to get around in, but on the contrary more scattered, more cumbersome, more time wasting, expensive and aggravating for cross-use.

p. 356 – (talking of balance.. of ladies driving more than their commuting husbands, duplication of cars, duplication of parking, resulting in idleness, and how to work it out, et al, then..) .. here, it would seem, is that elusive point of equilibrium; yet the moment work is introduced into the mixture, even in a suburb, the equilibrium is lost.

so – another for the ideas of school days/hours and earning a living ness – are not boding us well. rework ness.

p. 357 – one reason that erosion occurs as gradually as it does in most cities is the exorbitant cost of buying up so much land which is already in use for other purposes.

p. 358 – bu what these citizens say is worth listening to.


p. 360 – attrition of automobiles by cities is so seldom deliberate that it is hard to find recent examples. (the closing of streets for pedestrian use, being almost always accompanied by compensating provisions for vehicles, is not attrition but rearrangement of traffic.” however, – the closing of washington square park in new york to automobiles, beginning in 1958, affords an instance and is worth examining.

p. 361 – in short, they proposed closing off a roadbed without compensating for it.

instead f staying on the defensive, majority opinion in the community took to the offensive.

p. 363 – attrition of automobiles operates by making conditions less convenient for cars. attrition as a steady, gradual process )something that does not now exist) would steadily decrease the numbers of persons using private automobiles in a city. if properly carried out – as one aspect of stimulating diversity and intensifying city use – attrition would decrease the need for cars simultaneously with decreasing convenience for cars, much as, in reverse, erosion increases need for cars simultaneously with in creasing convenience for cars.

uber, lyft, et al..

many of the tactic become obvious at once, if we understand that the point is not attrition of automobiles in cities but rather the attrition of automobiles by cities. tactics are suitable which give room to other necessary and desired city uses that happen to be in competition with automobile traffic needs.

p. 369 – erosion of cities by automobiles, while anything but admirable in its effects, presents much to admire in certain of its principles of operation. anything so effective has something to teach, and is worth respect and study from that point of view.

the piecemeal erosive changes that cumulatively eat away a city are by no means all thought out in advance, in some olympian scheme or master plan. if they were, they would not be nearly as effective as they are. in the main, they occur as direct, practical responses to direct, practical problems as those problems appear. every move thus counts; few are gesture and boondoggles.

so – the need for aliveness of a city – ongoing emergencelisteningimprov ness

p. 371 – it is harder to understand , however, why the production and consumption of automobiles should be the purpose of life for this country.

it is disturbing to think that men who are young today, men who are being trained now for their careers, should accept on the grounds that they must be “modern” in their thinking, conceptions about cities and traffic which are not only unworkable, but also to which nothing new of any significance has been added since their fathers were children.

Ed too.

and so again – the need for 24/7 aliveness. perpetual beta. listening for the nuance of the moment – rather even – than for the nuance of the generation.

p. 372 – when we deal with cities we are dealing with life at its most complex and intense. because this is so, there is a basic esthetic limitation on what can be done with cities: a city cannot be a work of art.

well- depends on how/why you define art.. no? could be that cities are begging to be live, ongoing, perpetual beta art.. self-organizing Baan ness..

p. 373 – to approach a city, or even a city neighborhood, as if it were a larger architectural problem, capable of being given order by converting it into a disciplined work of art, is to make the mistake of attempting to substitute art for life.

yeah – no – not that. but a redefinition of art – being alive – and all inclusive.. it begs all inclusiveness..

… (talking of potential in closed societies, discipline by consensus…) such societies can produce villages, and maybe even their own kinds of cities, which look to us like works of art in their physical totality.

but this is not the case with us. for us, such societies may be interesting to ponder; and we may regard their harmonious words with admiration or a kind of nostalgia, and wonder wistfully why we can’t be like that

thinking Cage – and being stuck in a definition of music/art/ et al..

p. 374 – we can’t be like that because the limitations on possibilities and the strictures on individuals in such societies extend much beyond the materials and conceptions used in creating works of art from the grist of everyday life. the limitations and strictures extend in to every realm of opportunity (including intellectual opportunity) and into relationships among people themselves. these limitation and strictures would seem to us an unnecessary and intolerable sultification of liffe. for all our conformity, we are too adventurous, inquisitive, egoistic and ompetitive to be a harmonious society of artists by consensus, ad, what is more, we place a high value upon the very traits that prevent us from being so. not is this the constructive use we make of cities or the reason we find them valuable: to embody tradition or to express (and freeze) harmonious consensus.

whoa. – 1st: prior to now. ni-ness allows us to not have those limits. and allows us to be both individual and communal.. et al.. and 2nd: seems she’s having to say some of these things – because of  #1 (ie: what she writes on p 335) – things are now allowing us to be more us – and less competitive and egotistical.. and especially less frozen..

ie: is art really frozen? (yes it has been – but should it be?)

p. 375 – indirectly through the utopian tradition, and directly through the more realistic doctrine of art by imposition, modern city planning has been burdened from its beginnings with the unsuitable aim of converting cities into disciplined works of art.

like the housers who face a blank if they try to think what to do besides income-sorting projects, or the highwaymen who face a blank if they try to think what to do besides accommodate more cars, just so, architects who venture into city design often face a blank in trying to create visual order in cities except by substituting the order of art for the very different order of life. they cannot do anything else much. they cannot develop alternate tactics, for they lac a strategy for design that will help cities.

exactly  – because the strategy for design is – alive people – in the city as the day – ongoingly emergent. Baan ness.

instead of attempting to substitute art for life, city designers should return to a strategy ennobling both to art and to life: a strategy of illuminating and clarifying life and helping to explain to us its meanings and order – in this case, helping to illuminate, clarify and explain the order of cities.

or perhaps – 7 billion city designers.. self-organizing.. as the order.. charodic ness – a new day.

p. 376 – it’s fruitless, however, to search for some dramatic key element or kingpin which, if made clear, will clarify all. no single element in a city is, in truth, the kingpin or the key. the mixture itself is kingpin, and its mutual support is the order.

when city designers and planners try to find a design device that will express, in clear and easy fashion, the “skeleton” of city structure (expressways and promenades are current favorites for this purpose) they are on fundamentally the wrong track…

..a city is not put together like a mammal or a steel frame building – or even like a honeycomb or a coral. a city’s very structure consists of mixture of uses, and we get closest to its structural secrets when we deal with the conditions that generate diversity.

being a structural system in its own right, a city can best be understood straightforwardly in its own terms, rather than in terms of some other kinds of organisms or objects. however, if the slippery shorthand of analogy can help, perhaps the best analogy is to imagine a large field in darkness. in the field, many fires are burning. they are of many sizes, some great, others small; some far apart, others dotted close together; some are brightening, some are slowly going out. each fire, large or small, extends its radiance into the surrounding murk, and thus it carves out a space. but the space and the shape of that space exist only to the extent that the light from the fire creates it.

oh my. loving this. very Cage – ish.. silence ness..

p. 277 – the murk has no shape or pattern except where it is carved into space by the light. where the murk between the lights becomes deep and undefinable and shapeless, the only way to give it form or structure is to kindle new fires in the murk or sufficiently enlarge the nearest existing fires.

only intricacy and vitality of use give, to the parts of a city, appropriate structure and shape.

Kevin Lynch, in his book the image of the city, mentions the phenomenon of “lost” areas, places that the people he interviewed completely ignored and were actually unaware of unless reminded, although it would seem the locations of these “lost” places by no means merited this oblivion, and sometimes his observers had just traversed them in actuality or in imagination.

wherever the fires of use and vitality fail to extend in a city is a place in the murk, a place essentially without city form and structure. without that vital light, no seeking for “skeletons” or “frameworks” or “cells on which to hang the place can bring it into a city form.

these metaphoric space0defining fires are formed – to get back to tangible realities – by areas where diverse city uses and suers give each other close-grained and lively support.

this is the essential order which city design can assist. these areas of vitality need to have their remarkable functional order clarified. as cities get more such areas, and less gray area or murk, the need and the opportunities for clarification of this order will increase.

or – will it become irrelevant..? if we learn to live w/uncertainty/chaos – because that’s what keeps us alive… ness..

whatever is done to clarify this order, this intricate life, has to be done mainly by tactics of emphasis and suggestion.

wondering if this is app ish – ni ness – like now we can do this.. without definition… order can be invisible to our eyes.. visible to our hearts.. see

suggestion – the part standing for the whole – is a principal means by which art communicates; this is why art often tells us so much with such economy. one reason we understand this communication of suggestion and symbol is that, to a certain extent, it is the way all of us see life and the world. we constantly make organized selections of what we consider relevant and consistent from among all the things that cross our senses. we discard, or tuck into some secondary awareness, the impressions that do not make sense for our purposes of the moment – unless those irrelevant impressions are too strong to ignore. depending on our purposes, we even vary our selections of what we take in and organize. to this extent, we are all artists.

yes. indeed. we are all artists. and perhaps even more so today. tech helping us (freeing us from man made order) to be as we already are.. as is written on each heart.. more human.

this attribute of art, and this attribute in the way we see, are qualities on which the practice of city design can bank and which it can turn to advantage.

indeed. in the city. as the day.

designers do not need to be in literal control of an entire field of vision to incorporate visual order in cities. art is seldom ploddingly literal, and if it is, it is poor stuff. literal visual control in cities is usually a bore to everybody but the designers in charge, and sometimes after it is done, it bores them too. it leaves no discovery or organization or interest for anybody else.

indeed. yes. that.

the tactics needed are suggestions that help people make, for themselves, order and sense, instead of chaos, from what they see.

p. 378 – streets provide the principal visual scenes in cities.

however, too ay streets present our eyes with a profound and confusing contradictions…. [..]

weinberger – too big to know ness

in terms of all human experience, these two announcements, one telling of great intensity, the other telling of endlessness, are hard to combine into a sensible whole.

one or the other of these two conflicting sets of impressions has to take precedence.

well – perhaps prior to now. re\wire ness

the viewer has to combat or try to suppress the other set of impressions. either way, it is difficult not ot sense confusion and disorder. the more lively and varied the foreground )that is, the better its innate order of diversity), the sharper, and therefore the more disturbing, the contradiction of the two announcements can be. if too many streets embody this conflict, if they stamp a district or a whole city with this equivocation, the general effect is bound to be chaotic.

whoa – this is such a great analogy for ni…

there are of course, two ways of trying to see such a street. if a person gives the log view precedence, with its connotations of repetition and infinity, then the close-up scene and the intensity it conveys seem superfluous and offensive. i think this is the way that many architecturally trained viewers see city streets, and this is one reason for the impatience, and even contempt, that many (not all) of those who are architecturally trained express for the physical evidences of city diversity, freedom and life.

if the foreground view, on the other hand, takes precedence, then the endless repetition and continuation in to lost, indefinite distances becomes the superfluous, offensive and senseless element. i think this is the way most of us look at city streets most of the time, because this is the viewpoint of a person whose purpose it is to use what exists on that street, rather than to look at it in detachment. looking at the street in this way, the viewer makes sense, and at least a minimum amount of order, from the intimate view, but only at the price of considering the distance as a deplorable mishmash, better dismissed from mind if possible.

to bring even a chance for visual order to most such streets – and to districts in which such streets predominate – this basic contradiction of strong visual impressions has to be dealt with. i think this is what european visitors are getting at when they remark, as they often do, that the ugliness of our cities is owning to our gridiron street systems.

the functional order of the city demands that the intensity and diversity be there; their evidences can be removed from the street only at the cost of destroying necessary functional order.

p. 380 – on the other hand, however, the order of the city does not demand the impression of endlessness; this impression can be minimized without interfering with functional order. indeed, by so doing, the really significant attribute of intensity is reinforced.

therefore a good many city streets (not all) need visual interruptions, cutting off the indefinite distant view and at the same time visually heightening and celebrating intense street use by giving it a hint of enclosure and entity.

p. 391 – .. what we have to express in expressing our cities is not to be scorned. their intricate order – a manifestation of the freedom of countless numbers of people to make and carry out countless plans – i sin many ways a great wonder. we ought not to be reluctant to make this living collection of interdependent uses, this freedom, this life, more understandable for what it is , nor so unaware that we do not know what it is.

p. 393 – the silliest conception of salvage is to build a duplicate of the first failure and move the people from the first failure into its expensive duplicate so, so that the first failure can be salvaged. this is a stage of slum shifting and slum duplicating that our cities are reaching, however.

Ed ness

p. 406 – in on e sense, the whole affair is exasperating.  (commission/board sessions, et al) so many of the problems need never have arisen. if only well-meaning officials in departments of the city govt or in freewheeling authorities knew intimately, and cared about, the streets or districts which their schemes so vitally affect – or if they knew in the lease what the citizens of that place consider of value in their lives, and why.

*they will hold an executive session first [executive session s are on wednesdays, the day before public hearings] everything will be decided; and then the public will be listened to with complete courtesy and with deaf ears.

dang. no?

p. 408 – consider, for a moment, the kind of goals at which city planning must begin to aim, if the object is to plan for city vitality.

p. 409 – panning for vitality must promote continuous networks of local street neighborhoods, whose users and informal proprietors can count to the utmost in keeping the public spaces of the city safe, in handling strangers so they are an asset rather than a menace, in keeping casual public tabs on children in places that are public.

nevertheless, aims of this kind cannot be pursued unless those responsible for diagnosis, for devising tactics, for recommending actions and for carrying out actions know what they are doing. they must know it not in some generalized way, but in terms of the precise and unique places in a city with which they are dealing.

only supermen could understand a great city as a total, or as whole groups of districts, in the detail that is needed for guiding constructive actions and for avoiding unwitting, gratuitous, destructive actions.

p. 412 – naturally, problems which nearly everyone wants to solve, and which are capable of solution, are out of everyone’s comprehension and control.

p. 416 – (planning commission) – the invention was a poor one for the reason that it duplicated and i some ways reinforced, the very flaws it was intended to overcome.

p. 417 – it cannot be helped as things are. their staffs do not and cannot know enough about places within cities to do anything else, try as they might. [..] …an partly because of the same structural inadequacies in other departments.

here is an interesting thing about coordination both of information and of action in cities, and it is the crux of the mater: the principal coordination needed comes down to coordination among different services within localized places. this is at once the most difficult kind of coordination, and the most necessary.

app ness

p. 418 – planners like to think they deal in grand terms with the city as a whole, and that their value is great because they “grasp the whole picture.” but the notion that they are needed to deal with their city “as a whole” is principally a delusion. [..]  .. the work of city planning commissions and their staffs seldom deals, in truth, with a big city as a total organism.

no other expertise can substitute for locality knowledge in planning, whether the planning is creative, coordinating or predictive.

the invention required is not a device for coordination at the generalized top, but rather and invention to make coordination possible where the need is most acute – in specific and unique localities.

ie: 7 billion, 24/7, ness

p. 419 – … also responsible for understanding and serving the place as a place.

p. 420 – settlement houses

… for to work usefully as instruments of govt, admin district must encompass the many-sided activities of govt. and sometimes the idea gets diverted into the aim of building local”civic centers,” so that its importance is confused with the superficial aim of providing a new kind of project ornament for cities.

p. 421 – th emost important visible manifestation of district administration would be the sigh t of people talking together without havin first had “arrangements to formulate a liaison.”

convo – w/o agenda ness

city admin needs to be more complex in its fundamental structure so it can work more simply.

99 and 1 ness..

a city, however big, is still a city, with great interdependence among its places and its parts. it is not a collection of towns and if it were it would be destroyed as a city.

doctrinaire reorganization of govt into pure horizontal admin would be as fatally simple and as chaotically unworkable as the present messes.

p. 422 – what would be needed to put it in force would be a strong mayor… [..]  .. serving the city in decentralized fashion,..

stigmergic ness

p. 423 – it is futile to expect that citizens will act with responsibility, verve and experience on big, city-wide issues when self-govt has been rendered all but impossible on localized issues, which are often of the most direct importance to people.

p. 424 – in effect, the back-of-the-yards already operates as an admin district, not formally or theoretically, but in fact.

it may be this ability of the back-of-the-yards to function as a true, though informal, unit of govt power that makes possible its untypically large geographic size.

p. 425 – this – not the big city – is the unit (smaller units) that means most with respect to overcoming …… (list of environment et all issues)

p. 426 – govt crazy quilt

p. 427 – the voters are right because in real life we lack strategies and tactics for making large-scale metropolitan govt and planning work.

the voters sensibly decline to federate into a system where bigness means local helplessness, ruthless, oversimplified planning, and admin chaos – for that is just what municipal bigness means today

workable metropolitan admin has to be learned and used, first, within big cities, where no fixed political boundaries prevent its use. this is where we must experiment with methods for solving big common problems without, as a corollary, wreaking gratuitous mayhem on localities and on the processes of self-govt.

a people experiment

if great cities can learn to administer, coordinate and plan  in terms of administrative districts at understandable scale, we may become competent, as a society, to deal too with those crazy quilts of govt and admin in the greater metro areas. today we are not competent to do so. we have no practice or wisdom in handling big metropolitan admin or planning, except in the for of constantly ore inadequate adaptations of little-city govt.

what a great final chapter (22) – x-d glasses ness

p. 428 – we need to realize the kind of problem a city is. there are 3 types – problems of:

1) simplicity

2 dimensional, often: ie: # of people, # of jobs

2) disorganized complexity

stats, averages

3) organized complexity

p. 435 – x-d alive ness

among the many revolutionary changes of this century, perhaps those that go deepest are the changes in the mental methods we can use for probing the world. i don’t not mean new mechanical brains, but methods of analysis and discovery that have gotten in to human brains: new strategies for thinking. these have developed mainly as methods of science. but the mental awakenings and intellectual daring they represent are gradually beginning to affect other kinds of inquiry too. ….

p. 431 – … in spite of this helter-skelter or unknown behavior of all the individual variables, the system as a whole possesses certain orderly and analyzable average properties..

order because of chaos

p. 432 – but this progress has been possible only because the life sciences were recognized to be problems in organized complexity, and were thought of and attacked in ways suitable to understanding that kind of problem.

p. 433 – cities happen to be problems in organized complexity, like the life sciences. they present “situation in which a half-dozen or even several dozen quantities are all varying simultaneously and in subtly interconnected ways.” cities, again like the life sciences, do not exhibit one problem in organized complexity, which if understood explains all. they can be analyzed into many such problems or segments which as in the case of the life sciences, are also related with one another. the variables are many, but they are not helter-skelter; the are “interrelated into an organic whole.”

p. 434 – but there is no use wishing it were a simpler problem or trying t make it a simpler problem, because in real life it is not a simpler problem. no matter what you try to do to it, a city park behaves like a problem in organized complexity, and that is what it is. the same is true of all other parts or feature of cities. although the interrelations of their many factors are complex, there is nothing accidental or irrational about the ways in which these factors affect each other.

moreover, in parts of cities which are working well in some respects and badly in others (as is often the case), we cannot even analyze the virtues and the faults, diagnose the trouble or consider helpful changes, without going at them as problems of organized complexity.

we may wish for easier, all-purpose cures, but wishing cannot change these problems into simpler matters than organized complexity, no mater how much we try to evade the realitites and to handle them as something different.

why have cities not, long since, been identified, understood and treated as problems of organized complexity? if the people concerned with the life sciences were ale to identify their difficult problems as problems of organized complexity, why have people professionally concerned with cities not identified the kind of problem they had?

a different experiment.. ness

p. 435 – the theorists of conventional modern city planning have consistently mistaken cities as problems of simplicity and of disorganized complexity, and have tried to analyze and treat them thus… [..]  however, i think these misapplications could hardly have occurred, and certainly would not have been perpetuated as they have been, without great disrespect for the subject matter itself- cities.

p. 436 – to be sure, while planners were assuming that cities were properly problems of simplicity, planning theorists and planners could not avoid seeing that real cities were not so in fact. but they took care of this in the traditional way that the incurious (or the disrespectful) have always regarded problems of organized complexity: as if these puzzles were, in dr. weaver’s words, “in some dark and foreboding way, irrational.

(1930s) – planers began to imitate and apply these analyses precisely as if cities were problems in disorganized complexity, understandable purely by statistical analysis, predictable by application of probability mathematics, manageable by conversion into groups of averages.

this conception of the city as a collection of separate file drawers, in effect, was suited very well by the radiant city vision of Le Corbusier, that vertical and more centralized version of the two-variable garden city. although Le Corbusier himself made no more than a gesture toward statistical analysis, his scheme assumed the statistical reordering of a system of disorganized complexity, solvable mathematically; his towers in the park were a celebration, in art, of the potency of statistics and the triumph of the mathematical average.

dang. why stats holds no interest to me.

the new probability techniques, and the assumptions about the kind fo problem that underlay the way they have been used in city planning, did not supplant the base idea of the two=variable reformed city. rather these new ideas were added. simple, two=variable systems of order were still the aim. but these could be organized even more “rationally” now, from out of a supposed existing system of disorganized complexity.

dang. exactly what we’ve done.. are doing… in ed… et al.

p. 437 – in short, the new probability and statistical methods gave more”accuracy,” more scope, made possible a more olympians view and treatment of the supposed problem of the city.

.. there arose techniques for planning standardized shopping “scientifically”; although…

the larger the number of uprooted, the  more easily they could be planned for on the basis of mathematical averages.

why we started being obsessed with scale..?

by  carrying to logical conclusions the thesis that the city, as it exists, is a problem in disorganized complexity, housers and planners reached – apparently with straight faces – the idea that almost any specific malfunctioning could be corrected by opening and filling a new file drawer.

efficiency (by more and harder) – killing us

surveys that come out with fanfare, are read by practically nobody, and then drop quietly into oblivion..

survey obsessions.. costing millions.. taking up tons of time.. brain washing us.. all for what?

it became possible also to map out master plans for the statistical city, and people take these more seriously, for we are all accustomed to believe that maps and reality are necessarily related, or that if they are not, we can make them so by altering reality.

huge. dang.

the wry remark that “a region is an area safely larger than the last one to whose problems we found no solution” is not a wry remark in these terms. it is a simple statement of a basic fact about disorganized complexity; it is much like saying that a large insurance company is better equipped to average out risks than a small insurance company.

go bigger… ness

and so a growing number of people have begun, gradually, to think of cities as problems in organized complexity – organism that are replete with unexamined, but obviously intricately interconnected, and surely understandable, relationships. this book is one manifestation of that idea.

p. 439 – this is a point of view which has little currency yet among planner themselves, among architectural city designers, or among the businessmen and legislators who learn their planning lessons, naturally, from what is established and long accepted by planning “experts.” nor is this a point of view that has much appreciable currency in schools of planning (perhaps there least of all).

as long as city planers, and the businessmen, lenders, and legislators who have learned from planners, cling to the unexamined assumptions that they are dealing with a problem in the physical sciences, city planning cannot possibly progress. of course it stagnates. it lacks the first requisite for a body of practical and progressing tough: recognition of the kind of problem at issue…

..lacking this, it has found the shortest distance to a dead end.

p. 440 – to be sure, the techniques of two-variable and disorganized-complexity analysis are used too but only as subsidiary tactics.

thus, for instance, almost nothing useful can be understood or can be done about improving city dwellings if these are considered in the abstract as “housing.” city dwellings – either existing or potential – are specific and particularized building always involved in differing, specific processes such as unslumming, slumming, generation of diversity, self-destruction of diversity.

for cities process are the essence.

*because this is so, “housers,” narrowly specializing in “housing” expertise, are a vocational absurdity. such a profession makes sense only if it is assumed that “hosing” per se has important generalized effects and qualities. it does not.

p. 441 – the processes that occur in cities are not arcane, capable of being understton only by experts. they can be understood by almost anybody. many ordinary people already understand them; they simply have not given these processes names, or considered that by understanding these ordinary arrangements of cause and effect, we can also direct them if we want to.

simple enough.. a qr film and 99 and 1 ness

why reason inductively? because to reason, instead, from generalization ultimately drives us into absurdities – as in the case of the boston planner who knew )against all the real-life evidence he had- the the north end had to be a slum because the generalizations that make him and expert say it is.

this is an obvious pitfall because the generalizations on which the planner was depending are themselves so nonsensical.

city processes in real life are too complex to be routine, too particularized for application as abstractions. they are always made up of interactions among unique combinations of particulars, and there is no substitute for knowing the particulars.

inductive reasoning of this kind is, again, something that can be engaged in by ordinary, interested citizens, and again they have the advantage over planners. planners have been trained and disciplined in deductive thinking, like the boston planner who learned his lessons only too well.

reason bottom up – stigmergy – works/lasts/thrives

p. 442 – the advertisement tells us that brooklyn’s downtown is too dead by 8pm, as indeed it is. no surveys (and certainly no mindless, mechanical predictions projected forward in time from statistical surveys, a boondoggle that today frequently passes for “planning”) can tell us anything so relevant to the composition and to the need of brooklyn’s downtown as this small, but specific and precisely accurate, clue to the workings of that downtown.

simple – if we listen.. rather than try to regulate/control

it takes large quantities of the”average” to produce the “unaverage” in cities.

p. 443 – quantities of the “unaverage,” which are bound to be relatively small, are indispensable to vital cities.

same as for people.. whimsy matters.. within a person.. to keep them vital/alive..

this awareness of “unaverage”- clues – or awareness of their lack – is, again, something any citizen can practice. city dwellers indeed, are commonly great informal experts in precisely this subject. ordinary people in cities have an awareness of “unaverage” quantities which is quite consonant  with the importance of these relatively small quantities. and again, planners are the ones at the disadvantage. they have inevitably come to regard unaverage” quantities as relatively inconsequential, because these are statistically inconsequential…

..they have been trained to discount what is most vital.

Ed/most all of us. no?

underlying the city planners’ deep disrespect for their subject matter, underlying the jejune belief in the “dark and foreboding” irrationality or chaos of cities, lies a long-established misconception about the relationship of cities – and indeed of men – with the rest of nature.

p. 444 – the romantic idea of the “noble savage” was an even sillier one, on another plane. so , in this country, was Jefferson’s intellectual rejection of cities of free artisans and mechanics, and his dream of an ideal republic of self-reliant rural yeomen – a pathetic dream for a good and great man whose land was tilled by slaves.

in real life, barbarians (and peasants) are the least free of men- bound by tradition, ridden by caste, fettered by superstitions, riddled by suspicion and foreboding of whatever is strange. “city air makes free,” was the medieval saying, when city air literally did make free the runaway serf.

p. 445 – there are dangers in sentimentalizing nature. most sentimental ideas imply, at bottom, a deep if unacknowledged disrespect.

instead, it is a sentimental desire to toy, rather patronizingly, with some insipid, standardized, suburbanized shadow of nature – apparently in sheer disbelief that we and our cities, just by virtue of being, are a legitimate part of nature too, and involved with it in much deeper and more inescapable ways than grass trimming, sunbathing, and contemplative uplift. and so each day, several thousand more acres of our countryside are eaten by the bulldozers, covered by pavement, dotted with suburbanites who have killed the thing they thought they came to find.

the semisuburbanized and suburbanized messes we create in this way become despised by their own inhabitants tomorrow…. few of them, and these only the most expensive as a rule, hold their attraction much longer than a generation; then they begin to decay in the pattern of city gray areas.

p. 446 – nor, however destructive, is this something which happens accidentally or without the use of will. this is exactly what we, as a society, have willed to happen.

nature, sentimentalized and considered as the antithesis of cities, is apparently assume to consists of grass, fresh air and little else, and this ludicrous disrespect results in the devastation of nature even formally and publicly preserved in the form of a pet.

p. 447 – who would prefer this vapid suburbanization to timeless wonders? what kind of park supervisor would permit such vandalism of nature (clay dogs)? an all too familiar kind of mind is obviously at work here: ..

..a mind seeing only disorder, where a most intricate and unique order exists;

..the same kind of mind that sees only disorder in the life of city streets, and itches to erase it, standardize it, suburbanize it.

sentimentality about nature denatures everything it touches.


being human is itself difficult, and therefore all kinds of settlements (except dream cities) have problems.

p. 448 – the surplus wealth, the productivity, the close – grained juxtaposition of talents that permit society to support advances such as these are themselves products of our organization into cities, and especially into big and dense cities.

it may be romantic to search for the salves of society’s ills in slow-moving rustic surroundings, or among innocent, unspoiled provincials, if such exist, but it is a waste of time. does anyone suppose that, in real life, answers to any of the great questions that worry us today are going to come out of homogeneous settlements?

..lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.

why grit ness… authentic energy that regenerates itself…


jane jacobs would save


in Jeff Speck‘s walkable city:

Jane Jacobs put it this way: “Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth of public life may grow.

In the meantime, each year students have poured forth from universities, a clear, harmful case of education surrendered to credentialism. One wonders at the docility of the students who evidently must be satisfied enough with the credentials to be uncaring about the lack of education. – Jane Jacobs


Jacobs and Hsieh and gentrification:


Jacobs feared that this chaotic but human landscape was under threat, lost forever in the rationalizing schemes of planners who desired order rather than life.
There is no place where one is allowed to be unproductive
“Coworking” is, therefore, one of those words that needs to be approached with caution. Dismantling the walls of the traditional office space can be liberating and highly creative, but it can also deliver insecurity, division, and constant work. As community and business collapse into each other, does this leave any space in the city outside the marketplace? Is there anything except work, customer service, and the rules of 24/7 Capitalism?

Hassan Massoumi exclaimed after he lost his store when the lease was not renewed, “My wife and I came here when no one else would. For 10 years, we worked seven days a week — not one day of vacation. Then one day, Tony Hsieh’s people tell us to get out of there.”

And for those that remain: Does everyone have to buy their daily food from the Downtown 3rd Farmers’ Market? Much has been made of the private schools and nurseries such as the 9th that use revolutionary educational techniques, but these cost up to $12,000 a year. It is telling that little is said about the parents who can’t afford these rates. Despite the marketing, this is the opposite of a diverse neighborhood in the making. Like so many examples of gentrification, these are the subtle mechanisms that sort out the unwanted from the desirable.



Filling in the Blanks of Jane Jacobs’ Missing Chapter nextcity.org/daily/entry/ja…


bits from Steven Johnson‘s emergence..

weaver (from shannon from turing) call to action – nothing to do w digital computers… problem of inner city slums.. decidedly top down: razing entire neighborhoods… eliminating streets altogether..  destroy neighborhood feel that had preceded them..

p 24

october *61 – nyc… at center of protests was … Jane..argued that the way to improve … was not to bulldoze…. shortly after the village showdown.. Jacobs read weaver’s rockefeller foundation essay.. and immediately recognized her own agenda in **his call for exploring problems of org complexity

*61 ness – and even Jane

imagining the potential of mech to *find your people

p 25

a complex order. Its essence is intimacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance—not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole.

we cannot analyze virtues/faults, diagnose trouble, consider helpful changes, w/o going at the as problems of org complexity… wishing can”t change these problems into simpler matters than org complexity…to understand city’s complex order, you needed to understand that ever-changing ballet

where city streets had lost their equilibrium, you couldn’t simply approach problem by fiat and bulldoze entire neighborhoods out of existence…

vision of city far more than sum of its residents.. closer to living or… capable of adaptive change.. ‘vital cities have marvelous *innate abilities for understanding/communication/contriving/inventing what is required to combat their difficulties.. they get their order from **below

*h  u  g  e

**w/in rather.. w/in gut ness

Jacob’s book was a work of social theory, not science. was it possible to model and explain the behavior of self-org systems using more *rigorous methods..?

*more rigorous that ie: soles

p 89

great cities are not like towns only larger.. they are not like suburbs only denser.. they differ from towns/suburbs in basic ways.. – Jane Jacobs – emergence ness.. how cities self org over time.. while actual cities are heavily shaped by top down forces, such as zoning laws and planning commissions, scholars have long recognized that bottom-up forces play a critical role in city formation, creating distinct neighborhoods and other unplanned demographic clusters…. in recent years… have developed more precise models that re create the neighborhood formation process with startling precision..

imagine this as rat park ness – roosevelt and prospect.. bend ing your ear .. to model a nother way

p 90

local rules lead to global structure – but a structure that you wouldn’t necessarily predict from the rules..

p 91

neighborhoods are patterns in time… no one wills them into existence single-handedly; they emerge by a akind of tacit consensus: the artist go here, the investment bankers here, mexican-amiercans here, gays and lesbians here…

well kind of.. sans labels.. rather via curiosities.. via hosting-life-bits et al

neighbor hood govt ness

in the popular democracy of neighborhood formation, we vote with our feet..

true on.. rather than consenting to a topic.. consenting to individual gut.. and then grouping like people via that day’s gut ness

p 92

at core.. was street itself… the brilliance of.. death and life was that Jacobs understood – before the sciences had even developed a vocab to describe it – that those interactions enable cities to create emergent system. she fought so passionately against urban planning that got people ‘off the streets’ because she recognized that both the order and the vitality of working cities came from the loose, improvised assemblages of individuals who inhabited those streets. cities, Jacobs understood, were created not by central planning commissions, but by the low-level actions of borderline strangers going about their business in public life.

…safety… has everything to do with the local interactions of strangers sharing the public space of the sidewalks: … its essence is intimacy of sidewalk use… bringing with it constant succession of eyes….. we are the lucky possessors of a city order that makes it relatively simple to keep the peace because there are plenty of eyes on the street.

p 94

key is that sidewalks are important not because they provide environmentally sound alt to freeways..better exercise.. even though all those..  but nothing about physical existence that matters to Jacobs. what matters is that they are the primary conduit for the flow of info between city residents. … allow relatively high bandwidth communication between total strangers, and they mix large numbers of individuals in random configurations…… w/o sidewalks, ..like ants w/o smell…. they provide both the right kind and the right number of local interactions… they are the gap junction of city life..

many… misunderstood the reasons why she had embraced the sidewalk… that is because they saw the city as a kind of political theater, and not as an emergent system…

p 96

sidewalks exist to create the ‘complex order’ of the city, not to make the citizens more well-rounded. sidewalks work because they permit local interactions to create global order.

so imagining.. hosted life bits like global sidewalks ness… not to go global.. but to zoom deeper..


Andres Duany

Adam Greenfield

powers of towers (doc)

city ness



The Jane Jacobs’ Biography We’ve Been Waiting For – My convo with Robert Kanigel in @CityLabcitylab.com/design/2016/09…

Robert Kanigel’s Eyes on the Street is the Jane Jacobs biography I’ve been waiting for.


middle-class upbringing in Scranton, including the famous “toothbrush” incident, in which she was expelled for warning her fellow students against making the impossible promise to brush their teeth every night.


a glimpse into her time covering architecture, cities, and planning for Architectural Forum, where her boss sent her to give a last-minute speech at Harvard that later led to an article for Fortune: “Downtown Is for People,” the original germ of Death and Life.


He proposed on their first date after knowing each other for a week, which she initially declined but changed her mind about a few days later.


her intellectual curiosity was capacious and never limited to cities. She was drawn to everything….unafraid to explore any subject.


At Architectural Forum, certainly, architecture, cities, and planning became her beat, and she was a natural for it. But, again, those subjects were never the only things she was interested in; after Death and Life, she wrote on plenty of other subjects that all reflected what I see as her larger interest in the requirements, needs, and characteristics of healthy civilization generally.

a nother way – deep/simple/open enough for all of us

Death and Life came along to forever associate Jane Jacobs with cities because a) she loved cities and city life, and b) because she had become angry at what she saw happening to the cities she loved—not because she was somehow foreordained to make cities, and cities alone, her preferred and lasting subject.


I wouldn’t quite say she was disillusioned with universities, because that would imply she had illusions that needed undercutting in the first place. ….I think she had little tolerance for the ways of academia and figured she could do just fine if she was left alone to study, learn, and write on her own—which, of course, she did.


Hers were really new ideas that she was not content to merely describe, but to bring out in as vivid a way as possible.

graeber model law ness


she always thought of herself more as a thinker than an activist.


The terms really don’t apply to Jane. Yes, she was “revolutionary” in some of her ideas. Yes, she was “conservative” in others. But more than for most fresh thinkers, those categories, classes, and divisions tend to obscure her thinking rather than illuminate it. She herself had no use for them.


two books working on when she died: One was a kind of fresh wrap-up of her work in economics, which she had already explored in three previous books. The other was something she was calling A Brief Biography of the Human Race, a title that her Canadian editor understood to be devoid of irony and absolutely serious.


Dark Age Ahead is a pessimistic book. Part of me thinks Jane was indeed a pessimist, that given the darkness of her world of the Great Depression, fascism and communism, Vietnam, the “permanent war economy,” the demise of the great pillars of modern civilization— I could go on—she fixated on cities and urban neighborhoods as our last great hope for a diverse, democratic, humanistic order. What do you think?

Dark Age Ahead certainly has a pessimistic tone, but I don’t think of Jane as a pessimist. Her hope was that human reason, good will, and intelligence could be put to the job of solving human problems. And to hold on to that is itself optimistic.


Did cities precede agriculture? https://t.co/9CfjQfJGRQ

Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/Richard_Florida/status/783739544252387329

A new biography of Jacobs by Robert Kanigel that was presumably timed for the birth centennial, Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs, has been hailed by Richard Florida as one that avoids “St. Jane” hagiography.


liberating the concepts of “city” and “urbanization” from traditional definitions, and exploring perspectives that are more fluid and relational, just might open up useful new ways of interpreting urbanism in the past and present. This would be completely consistent with a Jacobsian spirit.


the evolution of something original. If that something wasn’t the “city” as traditionally understood, then perhaps it was the first stirrings of what Richard Florida has called the urban creative class


What I’m calling a creative class preoccupation with identity-making was an outgrowth of the “energized crowding” that Spiro Kostof, in The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History, sees as indispensable to the definition of a city. Çatalhöyük is nothing if not an exemplar of energized crowding. Thus, I don’t believe that Jacobs was entirely wrong about Cities First. I often tell my students that, in an empirically underdetermined field like archaeology, it’s sometimes better to


CityLab (@CityLab) tweeted at 8:38 AM – 20 Apr 2017 :

Why the Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses battle still matters https://t.co/taBNwvP5RG https://t.co/vEa2YzpnJh(http://twitter.com/CityLab/status/855068145140322304?s=17)

A new film by Matt Tyrnauer, Citizen Jane: Battle For The City, packages that story around the damage felt across so many American cities in the 20th century through urban renewal.


Jacobs, in a way, set everyone straight. A city is a diverse network of people, mutually supporting each other. It’s a social capital organism. This is a radically different vision of the city. Jacobs was a visionary, a great writer, and a public intellectual. We need more public intellectuals in this country—especially right now—so the idea of making a film “starring” one was appealing. To bring her ideas to a broad audience seemed like a fine challenge.


You can’t leave it to the “experts.” There are no experts. The expert has to be you.


she was questioning orthodoxy..

people have to insist on govt trying things their way..

a nother way.. for all of us




The School of Life (@TheSchoolOfLife) tweeted at 5:30 AM – 22 Mar 2018 :

“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.” – Jane Jacobs (http://twitter.com/TheSchoolOfLife/status/976783188684103680?s=17)


(2018) – walking in the city w jane by @childbkauthor

she learned the most when she was out and about.. t.. she enjoyed looking closely at things she saw around her. sometimes she tested herself by explaining things to her imaginary friends benjamin franklin, thomas jefferson and cerdic

cities: large, messy (looking but not in reality), diverse.. w short blocks w/more opp to turn more corners..meet up w others.. surprises..

jane and the other ‘nobodies’ had made a difference once again.

to honor jane…some friends/colleagues started a series of free walks.. to share facts/stories about their communities and help bring them to life for others.. the tours inspire people to connect w their neighbors and their cities.. find out more:


in the city

as the day


about the nature of economies here: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPNPpdBCqzU]

7 min – .. you know the chance to think about anything as much as you want to ..is a great luxury and most people don’t have it..t

imagine the world if they did.. we’d have ie: eudaimoniative surplus

i wouldn’t have it if i had to earn my living some other way

gaiman luxury law.. sans earn a living ness

while reading nature of econ (2000)


what did you mean about learning economics from nature? economies are human, not natural.. they’re artificial, w the possible exception of primitive foraging’

not so fast .. i didn’t mean we’re biologically artificial but that we create artificial things and impose them on the world of nature


they’re (fractals) complicated looking patterns that are actually made up of he same motif repeated on dii scales

we should care about fractals.. because lots of things that seem impossible to comprehend become more understandable if we id the basic pattern and watch what it produces thru repetition


icarus makes me shudder.. i’m nagged by thoughts of inventors ahead of their times..


possible the very oldest econ generality is the practice of sharing.. by that i don’t mean random or inadvertent sharing but calculated, intended sharing as an institutionalized social practice

that’s our sharing today for sure

as far as econ life is concerned, the major differentiation that emerged from sharing was the practice of trading..

measuring things.. ugh – marsh exchange law


i’m afraid i haven’t been clear.. econ development isn’t a matter of imitating nature.. rather, econ devel is a matter of using the same universal principles that the rest of nature uses..  the alt isn’t to develop some other way; some other way doesn’t exist..


even today wen educated people are aware of symbionts int he rest of nature, inventors who combine silicon chips w typewrite keyboards – or any other devices and material w diff econ lineages – aren’t imitating animal cells and mitochondria.. rather, they’re using universal principles of devel and co-devel for the good reason that no others are available. econ devel is a version of natural devel



in an ecosystem, the essential contributions made w/in the conduit are created by diverse biological activities..


the essence of dynamic stability is constant self correction

self-talk as data


what are economies for.. of course i know they’re to supply human needs, but surely human needs include fair and just sharing of econ production..

what is nature for.. to supply needs of mankind..  no.. nature has value and integrity in its own right.. regardless of human needs..  people don’t create or possess nature, and they do create and possess economies..


i think econ life is for teaching our species it has responsibilities to the planet and the rest of nature.. at least thats my hope..

it seems to me that economies have a lot in common w language – a lot besides unpredictably making themselves up.. what is language for.. glib answer is communication.. not an answer that does justice to the function of language.. how about this.. language is also for learning and to pass along learning in the process permitting us to develop cultures and multitudes of purposes..  like language econ life permits us to devel cultures and multitudes of purposes, and in my opinion that its function which is most meaningful for us


on title – an econ primer..? i prefer human beings in the ecology


via David.. on econ of cities:

David Wengrow (@davidwengrow) tweeted at 2:34 PM on Sat, Apr 06, 2019:
Re-reading this ’60s gem. Imagine, she says, a pre-agricultural city of foragers, whose growth is already based on its monopoly of some key commodity. Can’t help wonder what Jane Jacobs would have made of the later findings from Poverty Point, Dolní Věstonice, or Sannai Maruyama. https://t.co/rICrN3y6tS

@davidwengrow Jacobs includes intangibles (like esoteric knowledge) as the kind of values a centre might seek to control for exchange. So we wouldn’t necessarily expect to see much going out in the archaeological record, as seems to be the case with Poverty Point. Stuff goes in, knowledge out.

@TheDurtyTrowelYep…that has to be what Poverty Point is about. The Burning Man of the Archaic Deep South…

@davidwengrow Bingo.

econ of citieson request via prospector – thanks library

David Wengrow (@davidwengrow) tweeted at 7:26 AM on Sun, Apr 07, 2019:
In my 1990s undergrad classes, A. Sherratt used Jacobs’ forager town of ‘New Obsidian’ as a thought experiment, to get us over the stereotype of hunter-gatherer economies as “mere subsistence.” Value and commerce were key drivers of human history long before farming or cities.

value? commerce?