Fifty years ago this month, Random House published The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The author was Jane Jacobs, a housewife from Scranton who had no formal training in urban planning, but had managed to get a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and was encouraged by Jason Epstein to write a book that would change the world. And that it did. The book took on city governments, planners, the business establishment, modernist architecture, and the policy of urban renewal, charging that all were misguided, ravaging our cities will ill-conceived plans that sucked the life out of communities, while depriving residents of any say in their future.
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