Jane Jacobs (1916-2006)
Through her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs opened the eyes of many planners (including myself) to the reality of what made for city success or failure as a human environment. In effect she said the 'radiant' city approach espoused by Le Corbusier, and so popular with planning professionals at the time, had no basis in reality - 'the emperor had no clothes'. She presented a readable and thorough analysis of cities as people actually experience them. One of her most recognized observations was the importance of 'eyes on the street' for cities to succeed as human environments. The examples that follow are just a few of the observations set forth in her book and communicated throughout her lifetime and beyond.
(1) The district serve more than one primary function (preferable more than two). These functions must assure the presence of people outdoors on different schedules, for different purposes, but able to use many facilities in common.
(2) Most blocks must be small, with frequent opportunities to turn corners.
(3) The district must include buildings that mingle the old and the new, including a significant proportion of old ones that vary the economic yield necessary for profitable operation. The mingling must be close-grained.
(4) There be a sufficient dense concentration of people, including both residents and workers.
Jane states, "The necessity for these four conditions is the most important point this book has to make." She cited the North Beach / Telegraph Hill district of San Francisco as an example of such exuberant diversity.