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what we see: Advancing the observations of jane jacobs

Stephen A. Goldsmith and Lynne Elizabeth, Editors

A timely revisit of renowned urbanist-activist Jane Jacobs’ lifework, What We See invites thirty pundits and practitioners across fields to refresh Jacobs’ economic, social and urban planning theories for the present day. Combining personal and professional observations with meditations on Jacobs’ insights, essayists bring their diverse experience to bear to sketch the blueprints for the living city.

The book models itself after Jacobs’ collaborative approach to city and community building, asking community members and niche specialists to share their knowledge with a broader community, to work together toward a common goal of building the 21st century city.

The resulting collection of original essays expounds and expands Jacobs’ ideas on the qualities of a vibrant, robust urban area. It offers the generalist, the activist, and the urban planner practical examples of the benefits of planning that encourage community participation, pedestrianism, diversity, economic justice, innovation, environmental responsibility and self-sufficiency. 

 
 

urban acupuncture

Jaime Lerner

During his three terms as mayor of Curitiba, Brazil in the 1970s and ‘80s, architect and urbanist Jaime Lerner transformed his city into a global model of the sustainable and livable community. From the pioneering Bus Rapid Transit system to parks designed to catch runoff and reduce flooding and the creation of pedestrian-only zones, Lerner has been the driving force behind a host of innovative urban projects. In more than forty years of work in cities around the globe, Lerner has found that changes to a community don’t need to be large-scale and expensive to have a transformative impact—in fact, one block, park, or a single person can have an outsized effect on life in the surrounding city.


In Urban Acupuncture, Lerner celebrates these “pinpricks” of urbanism—projects, people, and initiatives from around the world that ripple through their communities to uplift city life. With meditative and descriptive prose, Lerner brings readers around the world to streets and neighborhoods where urban acupuncture has been practiced best, from the bustling La Boqueria market in Barcelona to the revitalization of the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul, South Korea. Through this journey, Lerner invites us to re-examine the true building blocks of vibrant communities—the tree-lined avenues, night vendors, and songs and traditions that connect us to our cities and to one another.
Urban Acupuncture is the first of Jaime Lerner’s visionary work to be published in English. It is a love letter to the elements that make a street hum with life or a neighborhood feel like home, penned by one of the world’s most successful advocates for sustainable and livable urbanism.

 
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becoming jane jacobs

Dr. Peter L. Laurence

The result of years of groundbreaking research, Becoming Jane Jacobs is the first intellectual biography to focus on Jacobs's early life and writing career leading up to her great book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Through an analysis of Jacobs's life and work, including many of her previously unknown writings and other original discoveries, Becoming Jane Jacobsoffers a new foundation for understanding not only Death and Life, but her subsequent books on cities, economies, and civilizations.

Jane Jacobs is universally recognized as one of the most important figures in American urbanism, and The Death and Life of Great American Cities one of the most important books on cities. However, because of her David-versus-Goliath battles with "Power Broker" Robert Moses and the urban-renewal establishment, Jacobs has received more attention for being an activist than a thinker, despite having written a list of influential books on cities, economies, and other subjects. Her intellectual skills have often been reduced to unusually keen powers of observation and common sense.

With Becoming Jane Jacobs, Dr. Peter L. Laurence shows that what is missing from the stereotypes and myths is a critical examination of how Jacobs arrived at her ideas about city life. The book shows that although Jacobs had only a high school diploma, she pursued a writing career that prepared her to become a nationally recognized architectural critic just as postwar urban renewal policies came into effect. After starting her writing career in the 1930s, and developing it as a writer and propagandist for the US government in the 1940s, Jacobs was immersed in an elite community of architects, city planners, and academics as an editor of the Time Inc. magazine Architectural Forum. The 1950s, a critical decade for US cities, was the time when Americans were deciding between living in new suburbs or rebuilding and modernizing old cities. Laurence reveals that when faced with this choice, Jacobs not only sided with urban renewal, but idealized the field of city planning-- before soon coming to see the problems with outdated and anti-urban concepts and methods for improving cities.

 
 

beyond zuccotti park

Ron Shiffman, Rick Bell, Lance Jay Brown, and Lynne Elizabeth, Editors

The Occupy Wall Street movement has challenged the physical manifestation of the First Amendment rights to freedom of assembly. Where and how can people congregate today? Forty social scientists, planners, architects, and civil liberties experts explore the definition, use, role, and importance of public space for the exercise of our democratic rights to free expression. The book also discusses whose voice is heard and what factors limit the participation of minorities in Occupy activities. This foundational work puts issues of democracy and civic engagement back into the center of dialogue about the built environment.

Beyond Zuccotti Park is part of a larger collaborative initiative, Democracy, Equity and Public Space, that includes a traveling photographic exhibition and a series of public forums, public and academic study groups, and a website. The book and exhibit launch was held in New York City in September, 2012. The initiative is building public understanding around issues of democracy and equity, while improving the design, use, and access to public spaces for free expression.

 
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dynamics of the mixed economy

Sanford Ikeda

Dynamics of the Mixed Economy applies the insights of modern Austrian political economy to examine economic policy in mixed economies.
It compares and contrasts standard approaches to the growth of the state (including public choice) with that of modern Austrian political economy; examines in detail the nature and operation of the interventionist process in the context of nationalization, regulation and the welfare state; analyzes conditions that produce instability under laissez-faire capitalism; argues that the interventionist process is a 'spontaneous order'; and offers several 'pattern predictions' regarding the character and behaviour of really existing economies.

 
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urban alchemy

Mindy Thomson Fullilove, M.D.

What if divided neighborhoods were causing public health problems? What if a new approach to planning and design could tackle both the built environment and collective well-being at the same time? What if cities could help each other?

Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, the acclaimed author of Root Shock, uses her unique perspective as a public health psychiatrist to explore and identify ways of healing social and spatial fractures simultaneously.

Using the work of French urbanist Michel Cantal-Dupart and the American urban design firm Rothschild Doyno Collaborative as guides as well as urban restoration projects from France and the US as exemplary cases, Fullilove identifies nine tools that can mend our broken cities and reconnect our communities to make them whole.

 
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the battle for gotham: New york in the shadow of robert moses + Jane Jacobs

Roberta Brandes Gratz

In the 1970s, New York City hit rock bottom. Crime was at its highest, the middle class exodus was in high gear, and bankruptcy loomed. Many people credit New York’s “master builder” Robert Moses with turning Gotham around, despite his brutal, undemocratic. and demolition-heavy ways.

Urban critic and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz contradicts this conventional view. New York City, Gratz argues, recovered precisely because of the waning power of Moses. His decline in the late 1960s and the drying up of big government funding for urban renewal projects allowed New York to organically regenerate according to the precepts defined by Jane Jacobs in her classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and in contradiction to Moses’s urban philosophy.

As American cities face a devastating economic crisis, Jacobs’s philosophy is again vital for the redevelopment of metropolitan life. Gratz who was named as one of Planetizen’s Top 100 Urban Thinkers gives an on-the-ground account of urban renewal and community success.

 
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Genius of common sense

Glenna Lang

Three books, all written by women in the early 1960s, changed the way we looked at the world and ourselves: Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, and Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities. All three books created revolutions in their respective spheres of influence, and nothing affected city planning and architecture--or the way we think about how life is lived in densely packed urban centers--more than Jane Jacobs's far-sighted polemic.

Here is the first book for young people about this heroine of common sense, a woman who never attended college but whose observations, determination, and independent spirit led her to far different conclusions than those of the academics who surrounded her. Illustrated with almost a hundred images, in­cluding a great number of photos never before published, this story of a remarkable woman will introduce her ideas and her life to young readers, many of whom have grown up in neighborhoods that were saved by her insights. It will inspire young people--and readers of all ages--and demonstrate that we learn vital life lessons from observing and thinking, and not just accepting what passes as "conventional wisdom."

 
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cities back from the edge: new life for downtown

Roberta Brandes Gratz + Norman Mintz

In this pioneering book on successful urban recovery, two urban experts draw on their firsthand observations of downtown change across the country to identify a flexible, effective approach to urban rejuvenation. From transportation planning and sprawl containment to the threat of superstore retailers, they address a host of key issues facing our cities today.

Roberta Brandes Gratz (New York, NY), an award-winning journalist and urban critic, is author of the urban design classic The Living City. A former staff reporter for the New York Post, Gratz has written for the New York Times Magazine and other publications. Norman Mintz (New York, NY) has played a leading role in the field of downtown revitalization for more than twenty-five years. He is Design Director at the 34th Street Partnership in New York City and a consultant on downtown revitalization across the country.

 
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we're still here ya bastards

Roberta Brandes Gratz

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is one of the darkest chapters in American history. The storm caused unprecedented destruction, and a toxic combination of government neglect and socioeconomic inequality turned a crisis into a tragedy. But among the rubble, there is hope.

We’re Still Here Ya Bastards presents an extraordinary panoramic look at New Orleans’s revival in the years following the hurricane. Award-winning journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz shares the stories of people who returned to their homes and have taken the rebuilding of their city into their own hands. She shows how the city—from the Lower Ninth Ward to the storied French Quarter to Bayou Bienvenue—is recovering despite flawed governmental policies that promote disaster capitalism rather than the public good. While tracing positive trends, Gratz also investigates the most fiercely debated issues and challenges facing the city: a violent and corrupt prison system, the tragic closing of Charity Hospital, the future of public education, and the rise of gentrification.


By telling stories that are often ignored by the mainstream media, We’re Still Here Ya Bastards shows the strength and resilience of a community that continues to work to rebuild New Orleans, and reveals what Katrina couldn’t destroy: the vibrant culture, epic history, and unwavering pride of one of the greatest cities in America.