Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What We See


My blogs of late have told stories of walkability and overcoming complexity - ingredients of the safe and vital neighborhood. There are more and I've been reading about them in a great new book: What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs (New Village Press, 2010). Click here for the website.

I'm not usually a fan of non-fiction anthologies which, having authored a crime prevention anthology myself, is probably just evidence of my own inconsistency. Regardless, What We See is an exception to my rule. It is a fabulous read!

Over 30 writers in this engaging book tell real-life stories about that most crucial skill at the root of Jacobs' insights - how to look carefully and see clearly the ingredients that make great neighborhoods. Authors include noted PBS journalist Ray Suarez, former San Francisco chief planner Alan Jacobs, urban design guru Claire Cooper-Marcus, and former Toronto mayor, David Crombie.

One of my favorite chapters includes Danish planner Jan Gehl's tribute called "For You Jane". Says Gehl:

A strong tailwind towards better cities has definitely started blowing. It is now known that looking carefully after pedestrians and the bicycles provides an opportunity to address [how to] make cities more lively, safe, sustainable, and healthy. More eyes steadily on the street. People are universally the greatest urban attraction. These are some obvious virtues of a city planning policy inspired by your principles…Thank you, Jane.

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