Planetizen Unveils Its Top 100 Urban Thinkers

0433_12innova.jpgJane Jacobs. Photo: BusinessWeek

She may be experiencing an intellectual reconsideration in some corners, but Jane Jacobs is still a beloved figure for the urban planners and designers of Planetizen.

After a month-long online poll that saw more than 14,000 votes cast, the site released its list of the "Top 100 Urban Thinkers" today — and Jane was at the top. Her longtime antagonist Robert Moses came in at No. 23, nine spots ahead of current New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Other notables singled out by Planetizen readers include Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York’s Central Park (No. 4), Enrique Penalosa, Bogota’s former mayor and a dedicated proponent of bus rapid transit (No. 14), and Kaid Benfield, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s smart growth program (No. 42).

Check out the complete top 100 right here. Is anyone missing, or should anyone be ranked higher than they are?

  • J.H. Crawford — the author of Carfree Cities and The Carfree Design Manual — deserves to be on this list.

  • mel

    JSK has not done enough YET to be on this list

    Lists like this tend to suffer from a little bias towards “current” figures

  • Arrant nonsense! How else to characterize a list of “urban thinkers” that includes arch anti-urbanists Thomas Jefferson (“I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health, and the liberties of man.”) and Henry Ford (“The modern city is the most unlovely and artificial sight this planet affords. The ultimate solution is to abandon it. We shall solve the city problem by leaving the city.”), let alone pastoralist Wendell Berry and exurbanophile Joel Garreau?

    (Jefferson and Ford quotes courtesy of “America’s Undeclared War: What’s Killing Our Cities and How We Can Stop It,” by Dan Lazare, who is more deserving of a place on the Planetizen list than nine-tenths of the names there.)

  • Patrick

    If Jane Jacobs is being given an intellectual reconsideration, it is only because people falsely blame her for NIMBYism. Jane Jacobs was not a NIMBY – she didn’t oppose urban infrastructure so long as it worked for a human-oriented city.

    What is actually being considered is the legacy of Robert Moses. The fact that Robert Moses might be less of a villain than we thought should not change the importance of Jane Jacobs. Personally, I think this reconsideration of Moses is brought on by a certain jealousy at his ability to get things done, rather than a proper hope to create the best city we can. As a transit advocate, I’d love to have the power to build transit whereever I please, just a Moses did with highways. But that doesn’t mean that I should. What we have now is a more balanced system. We must deal with NIMBYism and unbearably slow processes, but that means we are less likely to make big mistakes supported by the fashions of the times.

    And like Charles, I was very surprised to see Wendell Berry on a list of urban thinkers. He’s a farmer and an agrarian.

  • Hans Monderman is missing. But then again…traffic engineers are the red-headed stepchildren of the planning profession.

  • jon

    i think whyte and gehl should have been higher on the list, i’d place them in the top 5.

    great to see salingaros high up there.

  • Greg

    I wouldn’t say Jacobs is undergoing a reconsideration. The modernists who have always hated her have been trying to covertly undermine her legacy and rehabilitate Moses. Don’t let them fool you.



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