This book completely changed the way I think about cities: how they work, how they change, how people can change them (for better or worse). It is still in print and widely available, so why not get a copy (if you don’t have it already) and join the City Builder Book Club?
Even if you are not sure you want to read the whole thing, you really need to get at least up to Chapters 4 (entitled “The uses of sidewalks: assimilating children”) and 5 (“The uses of neighborhood parks”). I promise you, you will never look at streets, parks or playgrounds in the same way again.
Of course the world has changed since Jacobs’ time, and she is not right about everything. But the central question she asks – about how people of all ages and backgrounds can get along in big cities, even though we will never know even a fraction of our fellow city-dwellers – is absolutely the right one. And by the way, don’t be put off by the word “American” in the title – her insights are relevant to cities around the world.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this book.