Friday, September 28, 2007

Jane Jacobs retrospective
Robert Moses, New York's builder-kingpin, was the subject of three exhibitions earlier in the year at the Museum of the City of New York, the Queen Museum of Art and Columbia University. Now his nemesis, Jane Jacobs, gets her chance to shine. In Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York, the Municipal Art Society aims to reevaluate "the legacy and values of renowned New York activist Jane Jacobs through the lens of the city of today and tomorrow using images, text and multimedia."

Jacobs, of course, is the author of the Death and Life of Great American Cities. According to Edward Rothstein's review in the New York Times, the exhibit focuses on Jacobs' view that there are "four key qualities of healthy, vibrant cities." Those qualities are mixed-use streets, short blocks that encourage interaction, buildings with different purposes placed side-by-side (those buildings should also be of different ages) and a concentration of stuff all in one place to encourage urban diversity.

Rothstein writes that the exhibit celebrates Jacobs views, but doesn't challenge them. His article also quotes a letter Moses wrote to the publisher of "Death and Life of Great American Cities." Upon receiving a copy of the text, he sent it back with this note: "I am returning the book you sent me. Aside from the fact that it is intemperate and inaccurate, it is also libelous."

Here is a link to a New York Times slideshow of the exhibit.

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