You have arrived at the web home of Noah Brier. This is mostly an archive of over a decade of blogging and other writing. You can read more about me or get in touch. If you want more recent writing of mine, most of that is at my BrXnd marketing x AI newsletter and Why Is This Interesting?, a daily email for the intellectually omnivorous.

January, 2013

Jacobs v. Moses

A review on the relationship between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses as urban planners.
One of the best ways to judge just how interesting something really is is to see whether you're still thinking about it days from then. Anyway, another stop on my Instapaper archaeology was this excellent New Republic book review that talks about the relationship between the work of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. It's a pretty balanced affair that suggests that Jacobs may not have been as perfect an urban planner as she has since been painted and Moses may not have been the devil incarnate. I'll leave the conclusion for you to read on your own, but here's a quick snippet on where Jacobs doesn't necessarily work for the realities of the city:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities argues that at least one hundred homes per acre are necessary to support exciting stores and restaurants, but that two hundred homes per acre is a “danger mark.” After that point of roughly six-story buildings, Jacobs thought that neighborhoods risked sterile standardization. (The one public housing project that Jacobs blessed, at least initially, had only five stories.) But keeping great cities low means that far too few people can enjoy the benefits of city life. Jacobs herself had the strange idea that preventing new construction would keep cities affordable, but a single course in economics would have taught her the fallacy of that view. If booming demand collides against restricted supply, then prices will rise.
January 10, 2013
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