Blogs > Liberty and Power > Jane Jacobs Will be Missed

Apr 25, 2006 4:54 pm

Jane Jacobs Will be Missed

One of the best and most insightful books that I ever read was The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Unfortunately, she died this morning. Her AP obituary had a paragraph which helps to explain her importance in libertarian thought; "Her priorities were for integrated, manageable communities, for diversity of people, transportation, architecture and commerce. She also believed that economies need to be self-sustaining and self-renewing, relying on local initiative instead of centralized bureaucracies." She provided concrete examples that freedom works better than planning. Rest in peace Jane Jacobs.

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Jeff Riggenbach - 4/26/2006

This is a great loss. Jane Jacobs was one of the foremost woman intellectuals of the 20th Century. Her ignorance of formal economics led her to reinvent the wheel time and again in her writings, but she did so splendidly. Her intuitive grasp of spontaneous order was amazing. She will be sorely missed.


David Emanuel Andersson - 4/26/2006

I remember reading "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" as a Ph.D. student in regional planning. That book was a revelation that changed the way I thought about cities, but also made me somewhat confused since I had been studying conventional urban economics which implied separation of land uses as the alleged impact of the free market. I remember walking around the city where I lived and concluding that Jacobs seemed right and "economics" seemed wrong. Reading Hayek's "Use of Knowledge in Society" was the key to understanding why Jacobs was mostly right and neoclassical urban economists were mostly wrong. I guess Jacobs benefited from not having had a formal education in economics, along with a unique ability to make sense of the patterns of urban life as well as the motivations of individuals (e.g. in Systems of Survival). She was a great observer and a great thinker.


David T. Beito - 4/25/2006

She was a great lady who understood the spontaneous order of urban life better than anyone. She also endured much criticism when her book came out. A case in point was Lewis Mumford (who some think was the inspiration for Wesley Mouch) (sp?. He wrote an extremely hostile review of Death and Life in which he basically chaged that she gave aid and comfort to his favorite villains: the real estate speculators and defenders of free markets.

Kenneth R. Gregg - 4/25/2006

Sorry to hear of her death. I've enjoyed virtually every work of her. Very insightful, very understanding of the nature of city life.
Best to you,
Just Ken