The first major biography of the irrepressible woman who changed the way we view and live in cities, and whose influence can still be felt in any discussion of urban planning to this day.
Eyes on the Street is a revelation of the phenomenal woman who raised three children, wrote seven groundbreaking books, saved neighborhoods, stopped expressways, was arrested twice, and engaged at home and on the streets in thousands of debates--all of which she won. Here is the child who challenged her third-grade teacher; the high school poet; the journalist who honed her writing skills at Iron Age, Architectural Forum, Fortune, and other outlets, while amassing the knowledge she would draw upon to write her most famous book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Here, too, is the activist who helped lead an ultimately successful protest against Robert Moses's proposed expressway through her beloved Greenwich Village; and who, in order to keep her sons out of the Vietnam War, moved to Canada, where she became as well known and admired as she was in the United States.
Kanigel (The Man Who Knew Infinity) captures the life and character of Jane Jacobs (1916 2006), a stubborn, principled activist and the doyenne of urban planning. Jacobs best known for her highly influential and heralded book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which attacked efficiency-focused midcentury urban planning policies and called for livable, diverse, and pedestrian-friendly cities led an intellectually and socially rich life from start to finish. She enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Scranton, Pa., and got her first big break in 1935 at age 19, writing about Manhattan's fur district for Vogue. She fell in love with the lively West Village upon exiting the Christopher Street subway station for the first time. Kanigel turns Jacobs's life into a fascinating narrative with an endearing, obstinate, brilliant protagonist. Readers familiar with Jacobs's work will enjoy reading the behind-the-scenes anecdotes from her career at her first lecture at Harvard, which was a smashing success, she was only filling in at the last minute for her boss and was so nervous she memorized her speech beforehand and those who are learning about her for the first time will want to immediately pick up one (or all seven) of the books she wrote.