She loved her cities

News today that Jane Jacobs, the author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities and Cities and the Wealth of Nations, has passed away.

In an earlier academic life, she inspired myself and two of my classmates (Raphael Bostic and Scott Stern) to work on understanding what drove urban growth. The idea that cities had a life of their own and both a resistance to management and a fragility to their life should management go too far.

Her work saw details that economists would never worry about. For instance, she begins her primary work with an appreciation of the sidewalk as the lifeblood of neighbourhood communities and goes on to extoll the virtues of aged buildings and rail against the incursion of the car. It was as if she lived in a city; which of course she always did.

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