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The Case for Higher Density

Although orthodox planning theory has blamed high density for crime, filth, and a host of other problems, Jacobs disproves these assumptions and demonstrates how the high concentration of people is vital for city life, economic growth, and prosperity. While acknowledging that density alone does not produce healthy communities, she illustrates through concrete examples how higher densities yield a critical mass of people that is capable of supporting more vibrant communities. In exposing the difference between high density and overcrowding, Jacobs dispels many of the myths about high concentrations of people.

Local Economies

By dissecting how cities and their economies emerge and grow, Jacobs cast new light on the nature of local economies. She contested the assumptions that cities are a product of agricultural advancement; that specialized, highly efficient economies fuel long-term growth; and that large, stable businesses are the best sources of innovation. Instead, she developed a model of local economic development based on adding new types of work to old, promoting small businesses, and supporting the creative impulses of urban entrepreneurs.

“Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”

“Being human is itself difficult, and therefore all kinds of settlements (except dream cities) have problems. Big cities have difficulties in abundance, because they have people in abundance. But vital cities are not helpless to combat even the most difficult problems.”

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”

"Vital cities have marvelous innate abilities for understanding, communicating, contriving, and inventing what is required to combat their difficulties... Lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves."

“Whenever and wherever societies have flourished and prospered rather than stagnated and decayed, creative and workable cities have been at the core of the phenomenon… Decaying cities, declining economies, and mounting social troubles travel together. The combination is not coincidental.”

"In our American cities, we need all kinds of diversity."

”As in the pseudoscience of bloodletting, just so in the pseudoscience of city rebuilding and planning, years of learning and a plethora of subtle and complicated dogma have arisen on a foundation of nonsense.”

“...that the sight of people attracts still other people, is something that city planners and city architectural designers seem to find incomprehensible. They operate on the premise that city people seek the sight of emptiness, obvious order and quiet. Nothing could be less true. The presence of great numbers of people gathered together in cities should not only be frankly accepted as a physical fact… they should also be enjoyed as an asset and their presence celebrated...”

“Intricate minglings of different uses in cities are not a form of chaos. On the contrary, they represent a complex and highly developed form of order.”

-- From Jane Jacobs, author, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.



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