> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 17 November 2016
  • ISBN: 9781448180288
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 480

The Death and Life of Great American Cities




A groundbreaking critique of 20th-century urban planning and a classic of post-war social thought.

In this classic text, Jane Jacobs set out to produce an attack on current city planning and rebuilding and to introduce new principles by which these should be governed. The result is one of the most stimulating books on cities ever written.

Throughout the post-war period, planners temperamentally unsympathetic to cities have been let loose on our urban environment. Inspired by the ideals of the Garden City or Le Corbusier's Radiant City, they have dreamt up ambitious projects based on self-contained neighbourhoods, super-blocks, rigid 'scientific' plans and endless acres of grass. Yet they seldom stop to look at what actually works on the ground.

The real vitality of cities, argues Jacobs, lies in their diversity, architectural variety, teeming street life and human scale. It is only when we appreciate such fundamental realities that we can hope to create cities that are safe, interesting and economically viable, as well as places that people want to live in.

'Perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning... Jacobs has a powerful sense of narrative, a lively wit, a talent for surprise and the ability to touch the emotions as well as the mind' New York Times Book Review

  • Pub date: 17 November 2016
  • ISBN: 9781448180288
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 480

About the Author

Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1916, but lived much of her life in Toronto, Canada. She was the author of The Economy of Cities, The Question of Separatism: Quebec and the Struggle over Sovereignty, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and Systems of Survival. She died in 2006.

Also by Jane Jacobs

See all

Praise for The Death and Life of Great American Cities

“The most refreshing, provacative, stimulating and exciting study of this [great problem] which I have seen. It fairly crackles with bright honesty and common sense”

Harrison Salisbury, New York Times

“One of the most remarkable books ever written about the city... a primary work. The research apparatus is not pretentious it is the eye and the heart but it has given us a magnificent study of what gives life and spirit to the city”

William H. Whyte, author of The Organization Man

“Perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning... Jacobs has a powerful sense of narrative, a lively wit, a talent for surprise and the ability to touch the emotions as well as the mind”

New York Times Book Review

“An immensely provocative and rewarding book... It challenges comfortable assumptions...but it does so in a manner that is neither rancorous nor contentions”

Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post


Related titles