With her renowned book, 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities,' the writer, activist, and urbanist Jane Jacobs has influenced many cities across the world. Her work was based on her experiences and observations of the cities she lived in.
She was a firm believer in the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop. This was a big change from the way cities were typically organized in her time.
Her writings criticized large-scale urban renewal projects that harmed and divided neighborhoods, and she was instrumental in stopping slum clearance in New York City.
"Jane Jacobs argued that the street is the safest place in an urban neighborhood when there are “eyes on it”—that is, shopkeepers and residents who are naturally drawn to the street, walking, talking, playing, sitting and watching, and who are oriented to the street in their activities.
The street is also safer when the buildings on it are oriented to it, rather than turning their backs or blank sides on it. This is because it is an axis through which the lives of people pass.
Jacobs's insights have shaped the way cities are built around the world, and her ideas are still influential today. Her views about neighborhoods and city development have influenced generations of architects, planners, designers, and community members.