Jane Jacobs at the National Building Museum


We take them for granted that somethings improve or are
enhanced with the passage of time, and the changes that passage of time
brings. Trees grow larger, hedges growth thicker, fine old buildings put to uses that were
never originally intended or anticipated as
this building has been, are increasingly appreciated as time
passes. But some other things are too seldom enhanced or improved by
the workings of time. Now I’m thinking of American city and
suburban neighborhoods. On the whole, they have very chancy
records of dealing well with time and change. This
afternoon I’m going to discuss briefly four common kinds of failure for city
neighborhoods and make a few suggestions. Of course
don’t expect me to be comprehensive on such a subject in half an hour. The best I can do is
mention some thoughts and in the hope that they’ll stimulate more
thoughts and maybe better thoughts by others. My first suggestion concerns immigrants. Right now, right this minute, in locations extending from the Virginia
metropolitan fringes of Washington, and the Jersey metropolitan fringes of
New York, and the Los Angeles fringes of Los
Angeles, striving immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, China, the Philippines, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa are settling in woebegone
city suburbs to which time has been unkind. Right now, right this minute, these newcomers are enlivening some dull and dreary
streets with tiny grocery and clothing stores, secondhand shops, little importing and
craft enterprises, skimpy offices, and modest but exotic restaurants. Now either of two fates can befall these newly minted
immigrant neighborhoods. On the one hand, if members of the new
populations and their children melt away as they find their feet, the
sequel for these neighborhoods will be a second
influx of immigrants. Immigrants at
the bottom of the ladder, probably followed by yet another influx. Ample experience informs us that neighborhoods serving only as
immigrant launching pads repeatedly take a step or two forward, followed by two or three steps backward, while dilapitation inexorably deepens with time. In contrast, as many a Little Italy and Chinatown attest, along with less celebrated examples, immigrant neighborhoods that succeed
in holding on to their striving populations are neighborhoods that improve with time. They become civic assets in every respect: social, physical, and economic. Progress on the
part of the population is reflected in the neighborhood.
Increasing diversity of incomes, occupations, ambitions, education, skills, and connections are all reflected as increasingly
diversified neighborhoods. Time becomes the allay, not the enemy, of such neighborhoods. Self-respecting
people, no matter what their ethnic origins, abandon a place if it becomes fixed in
their minds that it is an undignified or an insulting place to be. Here’s my
suggestion: smart municipalities ought to contradict
that perception before it takes firm hold. No time to lose. By making sure that
newly minted immigrant neighborhoods receive really
good municipal housekeeping, public maintenance, and community
policing and fair Justice Services, along with some respectful amenities,
too: traffic taming and street trees come to
mind. And especially quick hassle-free
permissions for people to organize open-air markets if they want to and ask to, or run jitney services, or make whatever other life-enhancing and improving adaptations they want to provide for themselves. many new immigrants bring along with
them more expertise than Americans had in organizing and using such things looking at local jitney services for
local people not for tourists in the carribean for
instance I’ve wished that Americans had
arrangements as well pale into actually transportation needs and
opportunities in their suburbs and in city
neighborhoods simple straightforward municipal
investments I’m some kind just mentioned insensitive flexible bureaucratic adjustments the
kind just mentioned i minor in comparison with the costs and
adjustments demanded by city mega projects but if those minor costs and adjustments
attacks newcomers to neighborhoods in which they can feel
pride and proprietorship as they are finding their feet and
afterwards they carry a potential human civic
payoffs time and change you will then have been
listed as allies in these neighborhoods my second suggestion has to do with
communities needs for our hearts are centers and with a
related problem damage done to neighborhoods by
commercial incursions where they are inappropriate the desirability of community hearts is
well recognized nowadays much thought goes into designing them for new communities and inserting them
into neighborhoods that have lost community heart were
never had them the object is to nurture lo que house
where people on foot well naturally encounter one
another in the core some shoppin doing other
aaron’s promoting their cause is airing their
grievances catching up on gas up and perhaps
enjoying a coffee or beer under pretty color umbrellas let’s think a min about the natural
anatomy and community hearts wherever they develop spontaneously they are almost invariably consequences of two or more intersecting streets well used by pedestrians on the most meager level knows meager scale we have the cliche on the corner store or the corner pub that is recognized as
a local hangout in this cliche corner is the significant educative corner implies to streets intersecting in the
shape of an ex worldwide in traditional towns the spot recognized as the sender and
things surprisingly often contains a triangular
piece in grant this is because in this where three main
routes converge in the shape the more I in
communities where his story claimed much traffic was water-borne a hard often located itself at the intersection I’m a morder Front
Street we’re joined with an exit from a busy
day back where passengers disembarked when water
travel declined the heart moved elsewhere large cities
of course have typically develop not only
localized neighborhood our district heart but one are several major hearts and is also
have almost invariably located themselves at Billy pedestrian street
intersections all but the very smallest hearts the corner store typically provide
splendid sites for landmark buildings public squares or small parks now the cambers logic doesn’t work if I had more time I agree Dale you with
this morn tales a wannabe hearts that lacked the
anatomy intersecting well-used pedestrian
streets they are poor but Cindy they don’t catch on or hold up living beating community cards can’t be
arbitrarily located as if they were suburban shopping
centers for which the supporting an enemy is a
parking and perhaps a transit stop but given the
anatomy will use pedestrian main streets hearts locate themselves in fact they
can’t be pro-business prevented from locating themselves of
course would be signed can greatly enhance our reinforce them as I implied with my remarks about
landmark bill maynes and public squares now for the related
problem have commercial our institutional
facilities intruding into inappropriate places from time to time I glance plans an artist’s renderings for
charmingly design community hearts closely surrounded by charmingly
designed residences with their yards and I wonder where
future overflow of Commerce can be pleasantly accommodated perhaps this consideration doesn’t
matter in a village which is destined to remain
a village but it matters very much in a city
neighborhood or in a town or village which becomes
engulfed by a city in cities successful hearts and track users from
outside the neighborhood and they also attract entrepreneurs who
want to be where the action is these things happen in fact is these
things didn’t happen cities would be little more advantageous
economically and socially then villages they wouldn’t generate urban surprise fans I as and diversity so with time and change originally unforeseen
commercial and institutional overflows can occur in city neighborhoods where they go they may have to find encumbered makeshift quarters occasionally the
makeshift are delightful but most commonly they were just her as ugly jarring intrusive smears in the residential streets where they
were never meant to intrude watching this happen people think the neighborhood is going to the dogs so it is visually and soon as a sequel perhaps socialite in the end perhaps
economically as well so much is this former deterioration
dislike and feared that one of the chief
purposes longing regulations is to prevent it even if the regulations
succeed at home in time and change at bay as enemies any success they have comes
at the cost of squelching City potentialities meaning new conveniences and innovations here is where the anatomy natural
neighborhood hearts can come to the rescue one important adaptive advantage open-ended main pedestrian streets forming intersections is that these
streets are logical places for convertible
buildings to be four there is need to convert them they can be a design to form a
Neighborhood insurance so to speak for example row houses can be designed to convert easily and pleasantly to shops small
offices studios restaurants all kinds of things several join together even convert well
too small schools and other institutions and of course many buildings originally
put up for work especially law bill maynes convert
pleasantly two apartments or living and working combinations just as commercial and institutional
enterprises in the city neighborhood our town involved in the city can Bergen unexpectedly so can they do in dole and
whether unexpectedly those things happened to in that case if shops and other
facilities can be easily converted into and it hasn’t stopped to resolve is much better than
boarded-up France in some I am suggesting than urban
designers and municipalities should not even think about attractive
hearts with their pretty colored umbrellas
without also thinking about the indispensable Street anatomy required by
heart and they should not think about the
street man to me without also providing are encouraging easily convertible
buildings on most streets as opportunity to do this arises this is a practical strategy for dealing
with time and chains as well Heights not enemies my third suggestion concerns
gentrification I’m low-cost neighborhoods to which time
has not been kind but which have valuable assets
nevertheless typically the first outsiders to notice
these assets are artists and I are lessons their joint by young professionals are
other middle-class people whose eyes have been opened by the
artist discoveries for a time gentrification brings
heartening renovations and other physical improvements into a
neighborhood that needs improvements along with new people whose connections life skills and spending money can be
socially useful to the neighborhoods existing inhabitants and often are as long as gentrification
proceeds gently with moderation it tends to continue
beneficial and diversify in every way but nowadays especially and
neighborhoods period or what might be called its golden age and gentrification can be surprisingly short suddenly so many many new people want in
on a place now generally perceived to be
interesting and fashionable gentrification turns socially and
economically vicious in explodes into a feeding frenzy have
real estate speculation and the Vixens former inhabitants are you victim
wholesale price though I what Chester hartman
aptly calls the financial bulldozer even the iris who began the process are priced out DMN show Iran is result is that even the rich the people being priced in are cheated by this turn in the vents they were attracted by what they saw as
a lively interesting divers and their main city
neighborhood insured by the results ok and all and
modern gentrification this kind ever Manna Dey is being killed
as the place becomes an exclusive preserve for high-income people time is not kind it to high-income
preserves in cities unless they are small and cheek by jowl
with livelier and more diverse neighborhoods one need only noticed that many up for
and the left the day did neighborhood contains once beautiful proud an
ambitious dwellings to see evidence an exclusive preserves I love the rich do not necessarily hold
up well in settings the rich it seems to grow bored with on
the verge dole so the neighborhoods for their children were air still this is not surprising because such
places are boring when gentrification turns vicious and excessive it tells us first that
demand for moderately gentrified neighborhoods has outrun supply a bomb by now its appearance has revealed the basic
attributes have such places attributes that they
are just discover the streets have human scale buildings
are various an interesting streets are safer pedestrian use and
many ordinary conveniences are within pedestrian reach and neighbors are tolerant I’m different
lifestyles a few weeks ago I was in Richmond Virginia and I hadn’t taken a real good look at Richmond for
quite a few years when my nephews gave me a tour and I was
astounded and heartened to see neighborhoods that
I remembered from last time I had a tour as looking quite hopeless now very up and coming very attractive and
people doing a a lot to do it yourself repairs and changes on it was quite wonderful and I was also charm to say that these neighboring neighborhoods like this such as the fan
district and the boulevard for those in human Richmond looks very much as if they had been
designed by new urban this that tells us
something it’s pitiful let so many city
neighborhoods with these excellent basic attributes have been destroyed for highway
construction some clearance urban renewal enhancing
projects nevertheless some currently bypassed
transfused to remain and where they do modern gentrification I emphasize moderate could be
deliberately encourage to help take the heat of other
places being excessively gentrified another way
and adding to supply could be mine encouraging judicious in
filling in neighborhoods with human scale but not enough compactness and then said
they make good candidates however more than increased supply have
desirable city neighborhoods is needed to combat socially vicious Eva kins an existing inhabitants Artscape and Toronto organization concerned
specifically with protecting and promoting the
interests some Argus has come to the conclusion that the only
sure for not preventing artists from being priced out in their quarters is ownership in this case ownership by non-profit organizations the same is probably true for many other existing inhabitants ownership by cooperatives community development corporations slang
for us nonprofit organizations whatever
ingenuity is can be direct and to be a move retaining neighborhood
diversity a population my final suggestion concerns the hazard the somewhat different form a popularity as I mentioned earlier some community
hearts and their associated Street anatomies attract many outsiders and are widely
enjoyed this is not a bad thing on the contrary the hazard is this as leases for
commercial or institutional spaces expire tenants are apt to be faced with
shockingly increased rents property taxes on the popular promises can soar to
instigating even further increases if his own improvements commercial
overflow so much the worse the upshot is that
many facilities are priced oh the mic’s the hardware store goes the bookstore closes the place the
repair small appliances moves away the butcher shops and bakeries disappear as diverse a new dimensions into its place comes a kinder
monoculture incredible repetitions or whatever
happens to be most profitable on that street at that time of course these optimist on
all 6 seed six on the 17 new restaurants say die off rather rapidly and five
above the seven gift shops don’t make it through the next christmas into their places come under Optimus who hope something will be left in the
tail after the Dec costs on renovations an incredible rents
are paid but starting gradually well times are
good and rapidly when they aren’t the street
becomes dotted with vacant space the load conveniences don’t return to
fill them they can’t afford to all this is not
only into competition from also are big boxes but because 6s has priced 0 diversity a popular main pedestrian
street name to my own neighborhood is now afflicted
by this dynamic however fortunately the hardware store
remains so does the bookstore one butcher shop
with its associate in European growth rate and a large general bargain and outlet store not
only do these remain a flourish won the hardware has doubled in space the secret in their stability is that
they own the buildings where they do business and so we’re not vulnerable to being
priced out by soaring rents the banks also remaining they own their
bill maynes this has caused me to think about home
ownership when it became public policy in the
United States to encourage homeownership financial advice is such as long term
mortgages small down payments and more DJ
acceptance corporations mean agencies primarily the FHA proved successful in promoting the
policy track has seen someone do homeowners
under these arrangements was spoiling an otherwise ill conceived
for fostering much sense of community but that is another matter at least for
Spain ownership or today some 65 percent of American
households own their own hale’s or apartments the highest percentage in the world this has made me wonder whether similar
techniques would enable or encourage small
businesses especially those whose success depends
heavily on location to own their own premises of course not
all would want to and among those that did all would not
be able to but that is also true households why hadn’t become public policy to
foster business stability instability a city streets and
neighborhoods by enabling enterprises to protect
themselves to ownership against abruptly rise in
rents in other words I’ve arrived at once the same conclusion as Artscape their ownership is the shares protection against being
priced out over play some work these for suggestions may seem trivial compared with other municipal concerns such as racism poor schools traffic unemployment illegal drugs at inadequate
tax revenues crime persistent poverty what to do with
the garbage how to lure tourists whether the bill
mother stadium or convention center and so on nevertheless neighborhoods
that decline are pretty serious too two steps forward followed by three
steps back is no way for so the to progress and it doesn’t help solve other
municipal problems either the pattern makes them more intractable this pattern isn’t no it has practical
cause us and unless these forms and civic
ineptitude are faced and overcome American city
neighborhoods are as unlikely to deal well with time and
change in the future as they’ve been in the past the suggestions I’ve made may not be
politically possible there may be better or at any rate
different means of accomplishing similar names my purpose is to help stir up some
creative thinking now lacking about affect some time and
change and city neighborhoods a bomb all to stir up thinking about how
to enlist time and changes practical allies not as enemies that must be regulated
out and fended off on the one hand or messily surrendered to on the other we might as well learn how to make
constructive alliances with the work in some time because time is going to continue
happening that’s for sure any living thing is involved with Sky and the changes that time brings and
that includes human beings anybody who is raising
children knows this it involves repairing are restoring ecosystems anybody involved in their understands the
hazards and the opportunities and the whole
course since how things go is different with time and it’s true a city
neighborhoods so to repeat myself we might as well come
to grips with this I think thank you

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