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The Importance of Death and Life of Great American Cities The Importance of Death and Life of Great American Cities

The Importance of Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs to the Profession of Urban Planning

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which will be hereafter referred to as Death and Life, was the first and most influential book by Jane Jacobs, a writer and city activist from New York City. The book was first published in 1961 and it frontally attacked the principles and objectives of modernist, orthodox city planning and rebuilding in the post-war U.S.

This paper introduces the key ideas of Death and Life against the backdrop of the profound changes that took place in the post-war period and then analyses the impact of the book on the profession of urban planning. In addition, Jane Jacobs’ influence on the New Urbanism movement is explored, and her concepts are finally applied to the Atlantic Yards Project, a largescale urban redevelopment project in Brooklyn, New York.