I say often that Phoenix should have listened to Jane Jacobs (and that is my firm conviction) but how can the city listen to her, if they don’t know who she is?
Jane Jacobs was an activist (most famous for taking on and defeating the City of Manhattan and the proposed Lower Manhattan Expressway) and urbanist who championed dense, walkable cities over car-centered and car-dependent cities.
She articulated the ideas and the elements that must be integrated to build great cities, such as identity, a sense of place, civic pride, connection to heritage and history, and pedestrian friendly streets with healthy and defined neighborhoods.
Most people who have grown up in Valley don’t quite understand the concept of a neighborhood. With few exceptions we don’t have a strong sense of neighborhoods and we lack that sense of community and belonging that other cities have. That’s not to say “community” doesn’t exist in Phoenix, it does, but on a much smaller scale.
If you don’t believe we have community, please come out to the 2010 Jane’s Walk on May 1st in the Warehouse District. Get out of the car and walk on the city streets because you’ll be amazed and pleasantly surprised. Come learn about the beautiful and historic warehouses and the ways that they have been adapted for reuse. Jane Jacobs is known for saying that “new ideas require old buildings” and there are many in the Warehouse District. Come celebrate local Phoenix history and learn about the things we have in our city that we can be proud of. And it’s a free event!
“No one can find what will work for our cities by
looking at suburban garden cities, manipulating
scale models, or inventing dream cities.
You’ve got to get out and walk.”
– Jane Jacobs