Jane Jacobs: Urban Visionary

Alice Sparberg Alexiou, Author Rutgers University Press $24.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-8135-3792-4
Perhaps best known for her activism in preserving Manhattan's Greenwich Village, Jane Jacobs here gets a laudatory biography that focuses largely on her work in New York and, later, in Toronto. Using plenty of primary sources and many of Jacobs's own words, Alexiou provides a journalistically strong recounting of Jacobs's life, though her characterizations of the larger-than-life personalities Jacobs railed against-notably planning powerhouse Robert Moses, who is rarely portrayed as anything except a devious community destroyer-fail to amount to more than simple vilification. Similarly, Alexiou admires Jacobs, and her rah-rah prose gets awfully aggrandizing. (""No company, no individual, no matter how powerful, was off limits to Jacobs. She feared nobody-not even Robert Moses."") However, the blow-by-blow accounts of Jacobs's side of several major urban planning showdowns are immensely readable and will appeal to those interested in the history of urban planning. Photos.
Reviewed on: 05/08/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Paperback - 264 pages - 978-0-00-200832-7
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