Thank God for Jane Jacobs the Highway Slayer

lomex
An artist’s conception of the unbuilt Lower Manhattan Expressway, a mostly-elevated highway linking the Williamsburg Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, and Holland Tunnel that New York came perilously close to building. Image via NYC Roads

Jane Jacobs’ legacy is so broad and complex I’m not going to attempt a big thinkpiece to mark her 100th birthday. In lieu of something long and wordy, I’ve got two short paragraphs and some images of the Robert Moses road monsters she slew in the 1960s.

Car-centric planning was inimical to the things Jacobs valued most about cities — complexity, human energy, social contact. Her conception of the “erosion of cities” and “attrition of cars” clearly permeates Streetsblog’s coverage today. What a blessing that she was born, moved to New York, and led the uprising against these city-devouring road projects.

Library of Congress
No big deal, just lines on a map. Photo: Library of Congress via Untapped Cities
washington_sq_park
The sunken roadway through Washington Square Park that Jane Jacobs and what Robert Moses described as “a bunch of mothers” staved off. NYT archive image via Gothamist

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