Sunday, April 30, 2006

The song remains the same

Bill Steigerwald reminds us that the late Jane Jacobs' classic "The Death and Life of the Great American Cities" remains sadly relevant today, because many of the forces that she opposed continue to wield great power in American cities, and Pittsburgh remains a great example:

As she wrote in a foreword to the 1993 edition of "Death and Life," "Anti-city planning remains amazingly sturdy in American cities. It is still embodied in thousands of regulations, bylaws, and codes, also in bureaucratic timidities owing to accepted practices, and in unexamined public attitudes hardened by time."

Jacobs also said in 1993 she'd love to be able to take credit for ending America's plague of urban-renewal and slum-clearing programs. But it just wasn't true, she said, as proposed Downtown redevelopment schemes in cities like Pittsburgh would soon prove.

We are, it seems, a people doomed to continue to repeat our mistakes.


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