Make urbanism great again
Jane Jacobs is a journalist and author of the book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, one of the most important books on urbanism of the last 50 years.
Previously Jacobs was a columnist at the newspaper Architectural Forum, despite not having any specialist training or a degree. Her book was at first met with scepticism not only by greedy foremen, but also by critics: a review in the New Yorker called it “Mother Jacob’s Home Remedies”. However she was the first person to intelligibly explain why developers in expensive suits were destroying New York, taking away apartment blocks and building towers and highways in their place. The film follows the conflict between the humanitarian ideas of Jacobs and the ubercapitalist measures of New York property tycoon Robert Moses.
It is particularly interesting to compare issues discussed in the film with problems in modern day Moscow; the knocking down of Khrushchevkas and the renovation of Harlem, the taking away of kiosks, the battles for parks, the struggle with traffic jams and the unwillingness of Patriarch’s Ponds residents to see guests in their neighbourhood after 11 o’clock. “This is our city”, announces Jacobs surrounded by supporters, just before going to a rally and getting arrested.