Citizen Jane: Battle for the City


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Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Tracing journalist, author and activist Jane Jacobs's fight to stop Robert Moses from demolishing New York's historic neighbourhoods in pursuit of his modernist vision in the 60s.


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Cities are, in many ways,

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the greatest invention that human beings have brought the world.

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Cities have been expanding and urbanisation has been expanding on

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the globe in an exponential fashion.

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Most extraordinarily,

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we are urbanising people on the planet at maybe one and half million

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people every week.

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In less than two months,

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there'll be the equivalent to another Los Angeles

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metropolitan area on this planet.

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This scale and speed of urbanisation

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has never, ever happened in human history.

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This is the first time.

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When you look at what is being built in cities,

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you have endless, endless,

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row after row, of homogenising towers.

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And you see more and more highways.

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At this moment, you're going to

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shape the cities for generations to come.

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People need to realise this is an

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opportunity which will never come again.

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There are a couple of ways of approaching the design of cities.

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The question is always - who decides

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what the physical form will be...

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..how the city is going to function...

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..and who is going to live in the city?

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In order to understand what's happening today...

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..we need to think about two great figures

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in the middle of the 20th century,

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who embodied the struggle for the city.

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The legendary power broker, Robert Moses,

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who represented the authority of the great man who was going to come into

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the city with his carving knife

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and clear away the cancerous tissue...

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..and replace it with the shiny implements of modernist planning.

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You have to move a lot of people out of the way of a big housing project

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or slum-clearance project.

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A lot of them are not going to like it.

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Many of them are misinformed.

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In opposition to the homogenising clarity of Moses was Jane Jacobs.

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I have very little faith...

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..in, in...

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even the kind of person who prefers

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to take a large,

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overall view of things.

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Jacobs was an outsider.

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She believed the city is not about buildings, the city is about people.

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It is about public spaces and the street

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and she stood up for that.

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She evolved both a theory of what made a good and just city and a

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theory of opposition to the kind of

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planning practice that Moses represented.

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There's a prudishness, a fear of life,

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a wish to direct things from some

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uncontaminated refuge, that is part and parcel of their bad plan.

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They were famously at odds with each other.

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It really did become a war between opposing forces.

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Today, we're still fighting these battles across the world.

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When we look across the spectrum of all the problems generated by

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urbanisation, there is the

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extraordinary realisation that, my gosh,

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you know, these have been problems that have been around for the last

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100 years in cities.

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New York, of course, is the greatest example of that.

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In the 1930s,

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New York was the world's greatest city, you know?

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A very special place.

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Just the exuberance of metropolitan life in the early 20th century.

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That's, you know, the great age of the first real, great skyscrapers,

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you know, the Empire State Building is at the very climax of that.

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But then it all kind of crashes with the Depression.

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Through the entire decade of the '30s,

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it's just one problem after another.

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Now, this is an unfortunate period for the city.

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We've done an immense amount to cure these diseases and we have much more

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to do.

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Robert Moses started to work in an era, where we had a great many

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people living in truly horrible conditions.

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He began his professional life in opposition to those conditions.

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Moses emerged out of the progressive movement early in the

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20th-century in New York.

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The progressives were eager to improve the city.

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His early work in developing public parks and public beaches was about

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making life better for people who were not rich.

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Now, if we don't clean out these slums,

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the central areas are going to rot.

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And it's all nonsense to say that the problem can be solved by

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rehabilitating and fixing up Old Law Tenements.

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It can't be done.

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That problem, we've got to face.

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Just about every progressive believed that the way to solve the

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city's problems was to wipe the slate clean and start all over again.

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We didn't understand how high the price was,

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how we were giving up so many things that were so very important,

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until Jane Jacobs came along.

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I just loved coming to New York.

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It was inexhaustible.

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Just to walk around its streets and wonder at it.

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So many streets different,

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so many neighbourhoods different, so much going on.

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She lived in Greenwich Village,

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and just viscerally felt the pulse of the city,

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and was extraordinarily intuitive, was extremely observant.

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New York was a place where you don't have to be big and important and

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rich or have a great plot of land

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or a great development scheme or something like that,

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to do something,

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and maybe even do something new and do something interesting.

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A place that has scope for all kinds of people.

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What she saw was the soul of New York and what it meant to be a city,

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and a city meaning a community of people.

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After the war,

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the most sensational thing that came was the full flowering of

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this vision of the expressway tower city.

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This generation of idealistic city planners comes along

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and they are infected with the modernist purity idea.

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And they certainly have the tools at their disposal to sweep away large

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tracts of land.

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We recognise the problems your community faces,

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and we know that you share them with hundreds of cities everywhere.

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Now, what's involved in making your city a better place?

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Well, things like housing,

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industrial development,

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better streets and highways.

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Improving all these things adds up to a better city.

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I'm sure that you will see the exciting opportunity that exists for

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your city to become better.

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The planners conceiving these urban renewal projects are doing this from

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that godlike vantage point in the sky.

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To be able to look down,

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and you're able to imagine massive transformations.

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They thought that applying the logic

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of the machine age was going to do that.

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The problem had to be solved by some supervisor noticing where the slums

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were, noticing where the traffic was, and going in and bulldozing...

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..and building grand projects.

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Well, we got out a brochure just now,

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telling when everybody has to move.

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Robert Moses was the great embodiment of this.

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I don't honestly believe that,

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considering the large numbers of people we have had to move out the

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way of public housing and other public improvements,

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I don't believe that we've done any very substantial amount of harm.

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There must be people who are discommoded,

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inconvenienced, or call it what you will,

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on the old theory that you can't

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make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

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After the Second World War, Robert Moses began to amass power.

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He was the longest Parks Commissioner in the city of New York,

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and he got power to build parkways,

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and was appointed the city's construction coordinator.

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He built thousands of apartments.

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He became urban renewal tsar,

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the head of the mayor's committee on slum clearance.

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By the time that Moses was running the urban renewal programme,

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we had torn down, literally,

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thousands of tenement buildings in cities like New York and Chicago.

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You know, there is the prewar Moses and the post-war Moses.

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The prewar Moses was mostly an angel.

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Post-war Moses was increasingly problematic.

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For nearly half a century, this man has pushed people around New York.

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Almost anybody who is anybody has cursed him, fought him,

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knuckled under to him and admired him.

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The list of his adversaries include Franklin Roosevelt, Fannie Hurst,

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Elmer Davis, who once compared him to Hitler,

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Walter O'Malley and hundreds of

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thousands of landowners who thought

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their property was sacred.

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Absolute power corrupts absolutely,

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and Robert Moses was absolutely powerful.

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So, he had amassed not simply an incredibly amount of power,

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but had insulated himself from oversight by political authorities

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and by the broader public.

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Don't forget that it is one thing to buy a park or a great big chunk of

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land from one owner,

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it's quite another thing to get a right of way where hundreds and even

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thousands of people own it.

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Yet theoretically,

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and according to some of the goo-goos and uplift organisations,

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we are to negotiate with every individual until he's happy.

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Can you imagine when you build anything under those conditions?

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Moses, along with all of the people who were involved in the urban

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renewal programme, had an agreed-upon agenda.

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People needed adequate housing, adequate recreation facilities,

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and the motor car was coming to America and it needed to be

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accommodated on a large scale.

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That was the agenda.

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Moses became one polar view of what you could do...

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Until, all of sudden, there was an alternative.

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Jane Jacobs has, in The Death And Life Of Great American Cities,

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written a book that advances with the controlled and implacable power

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of a bulldozer against modern, orthodox city planning and rebuilding.

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I first began to look into city planning and housing,

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and it was unbelievably awful.

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Insane.

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When Death And Life comes out in the '60s, it's a clarion call.

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It's Martin Luther nailing those 95 theses to the cathedral door.

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The book is really the first cogent,

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accessible articulation of a whole set of ideas that questions the

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mainstream thinking about our cities.

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She is constantly probing.

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By that example, she is saying, "You, reader,

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"you have the ability to question."

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Middle-income housing projects which are truly marvels of dullness and

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regimentation, sealed against any buoyancy or vitality of city life.

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Luxury housing projects that mitigate their inanity, or try to,

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with a vapid vulgarity.

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Cultural centres that are unable to support a good book store.

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Civic centres that that are avoided by everyone but bums,

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who have fewer choices of loitering place than others.

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Expressways that eviscerate great cities.

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She was questioning orthodoxy, and in essence saying,

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the emperor has no clothes,

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at a time when women were not

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welcomed in those kinds of environments.

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If you want to see what kind of a city can flourish,

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you need to look at the cities where it is happening.

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There must be a lot of diversity.

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Continually building up diversity of kinds of work.

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Diversity of kinds of people.

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She revealed the way to create better cities is by working with the

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people who live there and the fabric that existed.

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The traditional fabric that people inhabited.

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There have to be areas of the city which people use a lot,

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walking on the streets, and

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use at all times of day.

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Jane understood neighbourhoods need lots of connections.

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Short blocks and lots of turns,

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allowing different kinds of interaction.

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Neighbourhoods need a mix of buildings, old and new.

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They need diverse uses, 24/7,

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so that they're safer.

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Constant connection with neighbourhoods around,

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so that you are not isolated.

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You need public spaces that are accessible to people.

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It's all a great network in the city.

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It's all related.

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She observed these early qualities,

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at a time when housing was being built in the completely

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opposite direction. They were isolating communities.

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They were creating dead-end streets.

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They were separating work uses and recreation and residential uses.

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She was explaining how life worked.

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Before Death And Life, she was a journalist.

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She was a very savvy observer of human behaviour,

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of places, of cities.

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Jacobs started writing about the city when she was 18 years old.

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She was a secretary for a candy company.

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She was determined to write on the side.

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She did what any good, enterprising writer would do -

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she got freelance jobs.

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Her curiosity was so remarkable.

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She writes about specific economic districts in the city.

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She does the Jewellery district, she does the Fur District,

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she does the Flower District. She develops a voice,

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and where does she sell them to?

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Vogue magazine.

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She was writing pieces about what she was observing and seeing in

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this city.

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The best way to plan for Downtown

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is to see how people use it today.

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There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city.

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People make it.

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And it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.

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She's curious, she's got a really good craft.

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She knows how to write.

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And she finds herself on a staff job with Architectural Forum.

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And this is Jacobs, an associate editor of the magazine

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Architectural Forum, who has been a

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New Yorker for 27 years, and loves it. Mrs Jane Jacobs.

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APPLAUSE

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Thank you very much.

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One fine day,

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Architectural Forum put me on an assignment about some urban renewal

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projects that were being done,

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in Philadelphia, as a matter of fact.

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We have found, in our work in rebuilding Philadelphia,

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that a central design idea,

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well-developed and clearly expressed,

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can of itself become a major creative force and can make more

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meaningful the work of individual architects

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in various parts of an area.

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I find out what they had in mind and what they were planning to do,

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and how it was going to look according to the drawings,

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and what great things it was going to accomplish.

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I came back and wrote enthusiastic articles about this.

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All was well. I was in very cosy with the planners and the

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project builders. Anyhow,

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time passed and some of these things were actually built.

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Society Hill is residential.

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The oldest part of the city, it is

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the site of an intensive restoration project.

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Houses, many predating the American Revolution,

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slowly had grown dilapidated, and had been converted to other uses.

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In addition, there was room for new,

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dramatically contemporary apartment towers.

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Society Hill emerges as a combination of ancient and modern.

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But they didn't work at all the way they should have worked.

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The city around them, didn't react, the way, theoretically,

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the city around them should have reacted.

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She is the hypersensitive antennae, you know,

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that's picking up something here that no-one else is seeing.

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Why did stores that looked very cheerful and were supposed to be

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doing a great and booming business in the plans,

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actually go empty or languish?

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Well, I would bring these questions up with the people who had been

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responsible for the planning of these places...

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..and I got quite a lot of alibis, boiling down to, "People are stupid,

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"they don't do what they are supposed to do."

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And this was a great shock to me.

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Never mind highfalutin theories and so forth, what are we looking at,

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what are we seeing?

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Do you want to trust some theory

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that somebody figured out sitting in an office

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somewhere or do you want to trust what you actually see out there

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with your own eyes? Maybe the

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experts didn't really know as much as they pretended to know.

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About this time, a gentleman came into the office of the

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Architectural Forum. He was very much worried about East Harlem.

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About $300-million-worth

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of city rebuilding money had been put to work.

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He could see that their problems were growing greater than they had

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ever been in the past.

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She goes up to Harlem and she gets taken around by William Kirk of the

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Union Settlement House and he's

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showing her all the things that are

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being lost in this community, what is being demolished.

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He would walk me around East Harlem.

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We would stop in at stores, stop in at housing projects.

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I began to see that just out of the accumulation of all of this,

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I was beginning to understand how things worked.

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Many little details of cause and effect.

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She describes it as the very beginning,

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the sort of moment when the light bulb kind of went off in her head.

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What I was seeing, in fact, was what

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makes the very intricate order of the city.

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This has to do with a quality that's called, rather vaguely, urbanism.

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Cities are extremely physical places.

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It's not an inert mass.

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It's enterprises and people reacting in certain ways to each other and

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mutually supporting each other.

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And wherever it worked properly,

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there seemed to be an awful lot of diversity.

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Many different kinds of enterprises, many different kinds of people,

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mutually supporting and supplementing each other.

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Jane Jacobs is thinking about - how does a neighbourhood work?

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How does a street work? What functions does a sidewalk play?

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What she's really after is a new theory of how cities function.

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In The Death And Life Of Great American Cities, she's asking -

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what is the problem of a city?

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She argues the city is a problem of organised complexity.

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Looks on the surface

0:25:540:25:56

like it's complex and disordered

0:25:560:26:00

but in fact there's an underlying structure.

0:26:000:26:02

It looks like chaos but in fact there's a balance,

0:26:040:26:08

there's a productive mix of different functions and organisms.

0:26:080:26:12

She draws on ecological metaphors, biological metaphors,

0:26:130:26:17

to suggest how it's really an ecosystem.

0:26:170:26:19

She wrote...

0:26:220:26:23

The leaves dropping from the trees in the autumn,

0:26:310:26:34

the interior of an aeroplane engine...

0:26:340:26:36

..the entrails of a dissected rabbit...

0:26:380:26:40

..the city desk of a newspaper...

0:26:410:26:43

..all appear to be chaos...

0:26:450:26:47

..if they are seen without comprehension.

0:26:480:26:51

Once they are seen as systems of order, they actually look different.

0:26:510:26:56

Jacobs understood - when cities really work,

0:26:570:27:01

they're phenomena that come from the bottom up.

0:27:010:27:04

So a great neighbourhood is what happens when thousands of different

0:27:040:27:07

actors - and that's the shopkeepers, the bar owners,

0:27:070:27:13

the people walking the streets...

0:27:130:27:15

They spontaneously come together in an uncoordinated but meaningful way,

0:27:150:27:19

to create the kind of flavour and personality of a distinct neighbourhood.

0:27:190:27:23

That's not planned, that's much more a question of organised complexity.

0:27:240:27:28

Planners, they don't see any of the wondrous human qualities that Jacobs

0:27:310:27:37

is seeing. The very forms of urbanism that she wrote about,

0:27:370:27:42

the urban renewal-ists sought to destroy.

0:27:420:27:45

What would you do for Harlem?

0:28:060:28:08

The slum corner of Harlem, I'd take that and all the other similar slums,

0:28:080:28:12

I'd tear them all out, every bit of them.

0:28:120:28:14

It's a cancerous thing and you've just got to wipe them out.

0:28:140:28:19

I say that if you have a cancerous growth, Phil, it has to be carved out.

0:28:190:28:23

All right, you've carved it out, now you've replaced it with something new.

0:28:230:28:26

Yes, that's right. Something that's decent,

0:28:260:28:29

something that involves light and

0:28:290:28:31

air and new schools and playgrounds and parks.

0:28:310:28:34

And I say that's a hell of a big contribution and certainly all the

0:28:340:28:38

contribution that I would be able to make with all the people I can

0:28:380:28:41

persuade to make it.

0:28:410:28:43

Instead of following the natural way that people used space,

0:28:450:28:48

city planning in this post-war era, and modern architecture,

0:28:480:28:52

created this abstract vision of what it should be,

0:28:520:28:56

concentrated on the utopian and the ideal.

0:28:560:28:59

In the 1920s, you get the rise of this curious,

0:29:130:29:16

mystical figure out of Switzerland, who calls himself Le Corbusier.

0:29:160:29:21

He's done some architecture and he's thinking himself not only an

0:29:210:29:25

architect but a great urban visionary.

0:29:250:29:27

Le Corbusier envisioned tearing down huge sections of Paris...

0:29:300:29:34

..and replacing it with slabs, modern slabs, cruciform buildings.

0:29:360:29:41

He proposed superhighways

0:29:430:29:45

that went through green, open space...

0:29:450:29:49

..and they were going to terminate in super blocks and the super blocks

0:29:500:29:55

had high-rise buildings, and the high-rise buildings were so that people could have

0:29:550:30:00

light and air and could get out of the slums.

0:30:000:30:02

And he was thoroughly of the opinion that if you had good architecture,

0:30:050:30:08

the lives of people would be improved and that architects improved people and

0:30:080:30:12

people would improve architecture

0:30:120:30:14

until perfectibility would descend on us

0:30:140:30:16

like the Holy Ghost and we'd be happy for ever after.

0:30:160:30:18

Corb did this plan and made his models and it excited a lot of

0:30:200:30:24

people, but in France they weren't so excited.

0:30:240:30:27

The idea of the La Ville radieuse and the tower in a park ended up moving to America,

0:30:290:30:34

just like the rest of modernism did.

0:30:340:30:36

The public housing model that we picked in the United States was a

0:30:390:30:43

misinterpretation of Le Corbusier.

0:30:430:30:45

The towers in his 1923 plan were for offices and then around the towers

0:30:460:30:52

were low, seven-storey buildings with generous balconies.

0:30:520:30:56

He never called for people living in high-rise towers.

0:30:570:31:02

It was one of those odd moments where a set of intellectual ideas

0:31:020:31:08

could be corrupted very quickly and easily into something cheap and commercial.

0:31:080:31:13

The simplest formula to make quick money is modernism.

0:31:130:31:17

It was very cheap,

0:31:170:31:19

very quick to produce and could suddenly enable huge amounts of

0:31:190:31:24

building to happen very quickly.

0:31:240:31:26

And Robert Moses totally understood that.

0:31:260:31:29

The one thing missing completely from that vision is streets and the

0:31:320:31:37

idea that a street is something you actually walk on and a street is a

0:31:370:31:41

place where things happen.

0:31:410:31:43

Jane Jacobs saw that at a time when everybody else

0:31:430:31:46

was thinking the sidewalk was a kind of foolish leftover of another age.

0:31:460:31:51

There must be eyes upon the street.

0:32:110:32:14

Eyes belonging to those we may call the natural proprietors of the street.

0:32:140:32:18

The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to ensure

0:32:190:32:22

the safety of both residents and

0:32:220:32:25

strangers, must be oriented to the street.

0:32:250:32:28

They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it

0:32:280:32:31

and leave it blind.

0:32:310:32:32

Philosophically, what she recognised was - safety doesn't come from armed

0:32:340:32:39

security guards blocking the entrances.

0:32:390:32:42

What makes a neighbourhood great is precisely the fact that there

0:32:440:32:47

ARE people on the street.

0:32:470:32:49

The sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously.

0:32:490:32:52

Both to add to the numbers of effective eyes on the street and to

0:32:520:32:55

induce the people in the buildings along the street to watch the

0:32:550:32:58

sidewalks in sufficient numbers.

0:32:580:33:00

Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window on an empty street.

0:33:030:33:06

She went out and looked at things.

0:33:170:33:19

When she said that the doormen were paid eyes on the street and that the

0:33:190:33:23

same thing could happen from bars on the street in West Village,

0:33:230:33:28

I understood what she was talking about.

0:33:280:33:30

Nobody has to worry about things, where there are a lot of people on

0:33:300:33:34

the street.

0:33:340:33:35

Jane Jacobs reverses the vantage point.

0:33:380:33:42

What is it like actually to live in these places from street level?

0:33:420:33:46

And it's that simple change of perspective that led her away from

0:33:460:33:49

the orthodoxy of the time.

0:33:490:33:51

Robert Moses had no interest, really,

0:33:560:33:58

in paying attention to what was there in neighbourhoods.

0:33:580:34:01

What was there, he viewed as simply an obstacle to what he wanted to

0:34:030:34:06

make happen.

0:34:060:34:09

People oppose Moses all the time.

0:34:090:34:12

Whether he wanted Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts,

0:34:130:34:15

a bridge across the entrance to the New York harbour,

0:34:150:34:18

a parking lot where mothers air their babies in Central Park,

0:34:180:34:22

a highway down the spine of Fire Island or one through the

0:34:220:34:25

middle of Washington Square,

0:34:250:34:27

vehement opposition was what he expected and what he got.

0:34:270:34:31

Oh, well, there's opposition to everything that's progressive,

0:34:310:34:34

everything that's new.

0:34:340:34:36

The opinion of people who were activists,

0:34:380:34:41

as we were in the Village,

0:34:410:34:43

were Robert Moses was terrible and Robert Moses was destroying the city

0:34:430:34:48

and Robert Moses had to be stopped.

0:34:480:34:51

Jane got involved in several efforts to stop Robert Moses from ripping

0:34:520:34:56

the city to pieces, starting with

0:34:560:34:58

his attempt to run Fifth Avenue down through Washington Square.

0:34:580:35:02

The first time I became aware of the threat of what the highways were

0:35:070:35:13

doing and could do to New York was

0:35:130:35:16

when along came the plan to push Fifth Avenue

0:35:160:35:20

through Washington Square Park and down below it,

0:35:200:35:25

as a continuous street.

0:35:250:35:27

They wanted to have the Fifth Avenue buses go through the park, down into

0:35:270:35:33

West Broadway and change the name of that to Fifth Avenue South,

0:35:330:35:39

so as to make it more valuable for

0:35:390:35:41

rents and that was a Robert Moses project.

0:35:410:35:45

This wasn't in the abstract, for Jane Jacobs,

0:35:450:35:47

this was happening close to home, right in her back yard.

0:35:470:35:50

This was where she brought her kids in strollers, to play in that park.

0:35:520:35:55

This is the circle. On weekdays,

0:35:580:36:00

it's a wading pool for Village kids but on

0:36:000:36:03

Sundays the water is turned off and

0:36:030:36:05

the circle becomes a meeting place for

0:36:050:36:07

guitarists, bongo and banjo players, Villagers on a stroll,

0:36:070:36:11

folk singers and tourists.

0:36:110:36:13

To me and to many others, we were outraged about a road going through

0:36:160:36:20

Washington Square and we were going to save Washington Square Park.

0:36:200:36:24

Washington Square was really Jane Jacobs'

0:36:270:36:29

beginning as a civic activist.

0:36:290:36:31

All of the activists, myself included,

0:36:310:36:33

were involved in trying to stop that.

0:36:330:36:36

The leaders there included Jane Jacobs and Charlie Hayes.

0:36:360:36:43

Jane was not deferential to power,

0:36:440:36:46

so she ups the ante on that Washington Square fight and says,

0:36:460:36:50

"I'm going to write the mayor."

0:36:500:36:52

I have heard with alarm and almost with disbelief,

0:36:530:36:56

the plans to run a sunken highway through the centre of Washington Square.

0:36:560:37:00

My husband and I are amongst the

0:37:020:37:04

citizens who truly believe in New York,

0:37:040:37:06

to the extent that we have bought a home in the heart of the city and

0:37:060:37:09

remodelled it with a lot of hard work.

0:37:090:37:12

It is very discouraging to do our best to make the city more habitable

0:37:120:37:15

and then to learn that the city itself is thinking up schemes to

0:37:150:37:18

make it uninhabitable.

0:37:180:37:20

Jane's example that she set for herself

0:37:240:37:27

is an example for other people to follow.

0:37:270:37:29

If a highway is coming

0:37:290:37:31

through that's going to be very destructive

0:37:310:37:34

and you know it's an idiotic thing, you fight that highway.

0:37:340:37:38

Protest against the stultification and the status quo,

0:37:380:37:41

and things that touch you and your neighbourhood directly.

0:37:410:37:44

I think she was effective because of the force of her personality and the

0:37:440:37:48

fact that she was able to mobilise a lot of people.

0:37:480:37:52

Margaret Mead, Susan Sontag,

0:37:520:37:54

all the various folks that Jane was involved with, were drawn to the

0:37:540:37:57

tangibility of this particular fight.

0:37:570:38:00

We have too many critics, we have too many mud throwers, too many

0:38:090:38:12

people who foul their nest and know it all - that's not trouble.

0:38:120:38:15

Too many people sitting around calling names, like Mumford, people like that...

0:38:150:38:19

What do they contribute?

0:38:190:38:20

You have any problem to solve, any difficulty,

0:38:200:38:23

never call upon them.

0:38:230:38:24

Call upon them for four-letter words.

0:38:260:38:28

They don't even have very good vocabulary, in my book.

0:38:300:38:33

Robert Moses wasn't used to anybody saying no to him.

0:38:330:38:37

He would fire off these letters to people of Greenwich Village.

0:38:370:38:40

I realised that in the process of rebuilding south of Washington Square

0:38:420:38:46

there would be cries of anguish from those who are honestly convinced the

0:38:460:38:50

Sistine Madonna was painted in the basement of one of the old buildings

0:38:500:38:54

there. Not presently occupied by a cabaret or speakeasy.

0:38:540:38:57

That Michelangelo's David was fashioned in a garret in

0:38:590:39:02

the same neighbourhood.

0:39:020:39:04

And that anyone who lays hands on the sacred landmarks will be

0:39:040:39:08

executed if he has not already been struck down by a bolt from heaven.

0:39:080:39:12

They managed to show Moses as this bully,

0:39:140:39:18

and they got a lot of important people on their side,

0:39:180:39:21

including Eleanor Roosevelt.

0:39:210:39:24

I would feel very strongly that destroying the square by putting

0:39:240:39:30

a large artery for traffic through the square,

0:39:300:39:35

would harm not only the square

0:39:350:39:38

itself but the whole neighbourhood and, really, the city.

0:39:380:39:43

I am not opposed to change, in fact, I believe in change.

0:39:430:39:48

But I think that good tradition has to be preserved.

0:39:480:39:53

Jacobs was a brilliant strategist when it came to civil action.

0:39:550:40:01

She had a real sense for the photo op.

0:40:010:40:04

In Washington Square Park,

0:40:040:40:06

she arranged for her daughter and another girl to conduct a

0:40:060:40:10

ribbon-tying ceremony. This, of course,

0:40:100:40:13

was the opposite of a ribbon cutting ceremony that politicians

0:40:130:40:16

love to celebrate with public works.

0:40:160:40:17

At one of the hearings,

0:40:190:40:21

where Moses was foolish enough to say that nobody is against this

0:40:210:40:25

except a bunch of mothers!

0:40:250:40:28

How could he be so tactless?

0:40:280:40:30

Only if you think people don't matter at all,

0:40:300:40:32

could you make a statement like that!

0:40:320:40:34

She was a housewife, that's how they treated her.

0:40:340:40:37

I mean, of course, she was a professional journalist that was not somehow...

0:40:370:40:41

When you wanted to dismiss her, you would just stay -"Who's this

0:40:410:40:45

"housewife from Hudson Street?"

0:40:450:40:47

Try to mess with a bunch of mothers.

0:40:470:40:49

I think that he underestimated what the effectiveness of these mothers

0:40:490:40:54

might in fact be. Literally thousands of people turned to...

0:40:540:41:00

And it took quite a few years, but did save it.

0:41:010:41:04

It ended up being an extraordinarily potent opposition,

0:41:040:41:07

which he had never met before.

0:41:070:41:08

Moses had never met this before.

0:41:080:41:10

He had his... He had it coming.

0:41:110:41:14

Washington Square Park was certainly the first public defeat for

0:41:150:41:20

Robert Moses, and it was a major chink in his armour.

0:41:200:41:24

The battle over Washington Square is Jane's first taste of victory.

0:41:270:41:31

Not long after the Washington Square victory,

0:41:340:41:37

Death And Life is published.

0:41:370:41:39

And Bennett Cerf, head of Random House, sends a copy to Robert Moses.

0:41:400:41:46

And Moses sends it back.

0:41:480:41:49

I am returning the book you sent me.

0:41:520:41:54

Aside from the fact it is intemperate and

0:41:550:41:57

inaccurate, it is also libellous.

0:41:570:42:02

I call your attention, for example, to page 131.

0:42:030:42:06

He didn't even want to recognise

0:42:300:42:32

the existence of the book or of Jane.

0:42:320:42:35

Others were also not charitable, including Lewis Mumford.

0:42:370:42:43

Lewis Mumford, the great architectural critic for The New Yorker,

0:42:430:42:47

his famous review of her book had the title -

0:42:470:42:51

Mother Jacobs' Home Remedies.

0:42:510:42:53

He is immediately telling you that Jane Jacobs was just this sweet old lady

0:42:530:42:57

trying to get some homoeopathic medicine into the city,

0:42:570:43:00

instead of doing the serious surgery that a real doctor would do.

0:43:000:43:03

Right around the time of Death and Life of Great American Cities,

0:43:060:43:10

ironically, her own neighbourhood, the West Village,

0:43:100:43:14

the very neighbourhood she had proclaimed as a model for what

0:43:140:43:19

neighbourhoods could be, was earmarked for urban renewal.

0:43:190:43:22

Moses was Commissioner of Housing in the urban renewal effort to build

0:43:280:43:32

more public housing in New York City.

0:43:320:43:35

He actually stepped down from that position, but before he did,

0:43:350:43:39

he designated the West Village as eligible for slum designation.

0:43:390:43:44

I got the book finished, finally.

0:43:520:43:55

And thought, "Ah, now I can think about something else."

0:43:550:43:59

And for three weeks, I did think about other things.

0:43:590:44:04

Then I opened the New York Times one morning and found that our own

0:44:040:44:09

area of the West Village was going

0:44:090:44:12

to have an urban renewal project in it.

0:44:120:44:15

She really didn't think of herself as a community organiser,

0:44:150:44:19

as a street fighter, she was a writer. She didn't appreciate the distraction,

0:44:190:44:24

she really didn't, but she knew she had to do it.

0:44:240:44:27

She was sad, I mean, she would shrug her shoulders and say, "What can I do?"

0:44:270:44:30

You know that thing about an inert object?

0:44:360:44:38

Well, there is nothing more inert than a government bureau.

0:44:380:44:42

There is nothing more inert than a planning office.

0:44:420:44:45

It gets going, in one direction,

0:44:450:44:47

and it's never going to change of its own accord.

0:44:470:44:49

So I suddenly had to put into practice my own premises that if

0:44:500:44:55

anything was going to happen to reverse the way things were being done,

0:44:550:45:00

then the citizens had to take some initiative and the citizens had to

0:45:000:45:04

frustrate the planners.

0:45:040:45:05

I thereupon began to devote myself to frustrating planners.

0:45:070:45:11

And so did the whole neighbourhood.

0:45:140:45:16

Jane calls a meeting of local residents at the Lion's Head,

0:45:170:45:22

a favourite neighbourhood hang-out,

0:45:220:45:25

organises people to speak at public meetings,

0:45:250:45:29

and gets everybody to wear

0:45:290:45:32

sunglasses with an X painted on them.

0:45:320:45:35

They were fairly sophisticated, I think,

0:45:410:45:43

in the tactics that they would employ,

0:45:430:45:45

and they are tackling somebody who has been writing for a living for a

0:45:450:45:48

couple of decades and knows how to make an argument.

0:45:480:45:51

We all knew one another and were constantly planning on how to get

0:45:510:45:56

the mayor on our side and threaten him, and we did, we got him on our side!

0:45:560:46:01

She filed a lawsuit against the city of New York,

0:46:010:46:04

to try to block the urban renewal plan.

0:46:040:46:07

I think that the time has come to put the West Village urban renewal

0:46:110:46:14

proposal to rest.

0:46:140:46:15

Promptly remove the West Village designation -

0:46:170:46:19

They prevailed, and at the end of the day, the slum designation never

0:46:240:46:27

happened in the West Village.

0:46:270:46:30

She effectively showed the people of Greenwich Village that they could

0:46:320:46:37

fight City Hall, that they did not have to accept the plans of the

0:46:370:46:42

planners at their drafting tables,

0:46:420:46:45

and that they could reject those lines being drawn around their homes.

0:46:450:46:51

Any city that's tearing down its buildings just to make money

0:46:550:46:59

for a development or

0:46:590:47:01

just to add novelty, is doing something criminal.

0:47:010:47:06

DISTANT VOICES

0:47:120:47:14

A fellow who gets to the upper storeys of a public housing project,

0:47:170:47:22

where he has a view.

0:47:220:47:23

What's the matter with him? He's got a nice place to live, hasn't he?

0:47:230:47:27

I think that the objection that some might have was that the view was

0:47:290:47:32

just of another housing development on another highway.

0:47:320:47:35

No, no. No, I don't concede that.

0:47:350:47:39

It wasn't just that they wanted new housing in place of the old,

0:47:450:47:49

they wanted an entirely different-looking city.

0:47:490:47:51

Robert Moses and his constituency, wanted it all to be very simplified,

0:47:570:48:03

very sterilised.

0:48:030:48:04

It was the hubris of Moses and his ilk,

0:48:060:48:09

the idea that we're going to rearrange the spaces and therefore

0:48:090:48:14

we're going to rearrange the social relations.

0:48:140:48:17

It had to do with this towers in the park mentality,

0:48:170:48:21

it had to do with the creation of a new form of ghetto.

0:48:210:48:24

Old downtowns were being bulldozed in the name of

0:48:280:48:31

people but not for the people -

0:48:310:48:34

they were destroying lives and

0:48:340:48:36

replacing them with these housing projects.

0:48:360:48:38

And why? Because it was making a lot of people a lot of money.

0:48:400:48:44

It was making developers a lot of money.

0:48:440:48:47

Politicians a lot of money.

0:48:480:48:51

And it was fast money.

0:48:510:48:52

So they kept doing it over and over and over again,

0:48:540:48:56

in cities all over the country.

0:48:560:48:58

It was several years after Robert Moses had begun

0:49:000:49:03

building these projects,

0:49:030:49:05

that the other cities caught up.

0:49:050:49:07

What they were building was the Corbusian model.

0:49:220:49:26

You saw the kind of building of these housing projects across the

0:49:260:49:29

United States, you know,

0:49:290:49:31

25-storey, block-apartment buildings,

0:49:310:49:34

with playgrounds and gardens

0:49:340:49:36

around them, that looked great in all the drawings.

0:49:360:49:39

Here in bright new buildings with spacious grounds, they can live.

0:49:390:49:44

Live with indoor plumbing, electric lights,

0:49:440:49:47

fresh-plastered walls, and the rest of the conveniences that are

0:49:470:49:50

expected in the 20th century.

0:49:500:49:51

In these projects, children can play in safety on the wide lawns,

0:49:530:49:58

not in the littered alleys and vacant lots.

0:49:580:50:00

We must make sure that every family

0:50:020:50:05

in America lives in a home of dignity.

0:50:050:50:10

In a neighbourhood of pride and a

0:50:100:50:12

community of opportunity and a city of promise and hope.

0:50:120:50:18

But what ended up happening is - nobody ever hung out

0:50:190:50:23

in the kind of public space around these projects,

0:50:230:50:26

so they became these under-populated places,

0:50:260:50:29

and they actually very quickly became some of the most

0:50:290:50:32

dangerous places in the world.

0:50:320:50:34

Concentrated poverty.

0:50:350:50:38

This is really the worst thing about the projects.

0:50:380:50:42

And therefore amplified all of the

0:50:420:50:44

pathological and anti-social elements of poverty.

0:50:440:50:50

These institutions became fortressed.

0:50:500:50:53

You become cornered, you feel cornered, you feel trapped.

0:50:530:50:57

They left people more vulnerable.

0:50:570:50:59

Public housing became places of fear.

0:50:590:51:02

High-rise fortresses like these were built this way to save money.

0:51:060:51:09

In the long run, they didn't even do that.

0:51:090:51:12

The problem was that they were all wrong for the people who wound up

0:51:120:51:15

living in them. Rural blacks, broken families.

0:51:150:51:19

Allowed in and to stay in, only if their incomes were low enough.

0:51:190:51:22

Most of these now are engaged in something called urban renewal,

0:51:270:51:31

which means moving the negroes out, it means negro removal,

0:51:310:51:34

that is what it means.

0:51:340:51:36

The federal government is an accomplice to this fact.

0:51:360:51:39

Now, we're talking about human beings.

0:51:390:51:41

There is not such a thing as a monolithic wall or some abstraction

0:51:410:51:44

called the negro problem, these are negro boys and girls,

0:51:440:51:47

who at 16 and 17 don't believe the country means anything that it says,

0:51:470:51:50

don't feel they have any place here.

0:51:500:51:53

The phrase - "Urban renewal is negro removal" - was an acknowledgement by

0:51:530:51:57

African-Americans that this was an assault, removal in the sense of

0:51:570:52:02

out, over there, away, far away.

0:52:020:52:05

some place inhospitable, where you can just die.

0:52:050:52:08

And a huge part of what happened to people was that they were put in

0:52:090:52:12

inhospitable places and African-Americans were put in at the

0:52:120:52:16

margins of the city,

0:52:160:52:17

in places that could barely support the vital kind of life that

0:52:170:52:21

people need to prosper.

0:52:210:52:22

It's as though the builders have not realised that children would be

0:52:250:52:28

living there. Nor did they foresee the crime,

0:52:280:52:31

the vandalism, which is really the acting out of rage and self-loathing

0:52:310:52:34

that can make people want to destroy their own property.

0:52:340:52:38

People had lived in communities that were messy, but they worked.

0:52:380:52:41

People had social capitals,

0:52:410:52:43

people watched each other's child when somebody was not there.

0:52:430:52:47

All this was actually taken away.

0:52:470:52:50

People had no investment, emotionally,

0:52:500:52:53

people resented these projects that had been built for them

0:52:530:52:56

because they were poor.

0:52:560:52:58

You see a lot of windows broken up there.

0:53:010:53:02

They all were broken by children throwing rocks.

0:53:020:53:05

And what's more natural than children throwing rocks?

0:53:050:53:07

They don't have nothing else to do.

0:53:070:53:09

There is absolutely no recreation facilities here.

0:53:090:53:12

And the playground like this is a mockery for thousands of children.

0:53:120:53:17

Tenants had no input as to what they wanted.

0:53:180:53:22

It was built because somebody said,

0:53:220:53:23

this would be good for children to play on.

0:53:230:53:25

There was graffiti everywhere and there were drug problems and all the

0:53:270:53:31

problems you can imagine coming from when you uproot people

0:53:310:53:36

without their will.

0:53:360:53:39

And what do you expect?

0:53:390:53:40

That they will love these projects?

0:53:400:53:42

No, that wasn't going to happen.

0:53:420:53:43

Pruitt-Igoe, if you really see an aerial view of it,

0:53:500:53:54

those buildings were spaced quite a distance apart.

0:53:540:53:57

If you took them and threw them on their on their faces,

0:53:570:53:59

which is where they should have fallen,

0:53:590:54:02

you would get lovely housing 20-feet high!

0:54:020:54:06

You can take a look at a little exercise here, if these towers,

0:54:060:54:11

the slabs are removed from the towers,

0:54:110:54:14

you begin to see a different attitude of what is visible,

0:54:140:54:18

you begin to see through the site,

0:54:180:54:21

as opposed to looking at a slab of

0:54:210:54:23

buildings running...

0:54:230:54:24

One thing the tenants are really stressing, is for a

0:54:240:54:27

low-rise building closer to a home, something that they can relate to.

0:54:270:54:33

What we're trying to do here is to take a given situation and try to

0:54:330:54:39

bring it back to a community where people would want to live.

0:54:390:54:45

After thinking about the problem of the Pruitt-Igoe housing project,

0:55:030:55:07

the city planners blew it up.

0:55:070:55:09

Just dynamited it away.

0:55:160:55:18

The projects ended up being tremendous failures.

0:55:250:55:29

We know all about that failure now.

0:55:290:55:31

And everywhere they existed - 30, 40 years later,

0:55:310:55:34

they are all being torn down.

0:55:340:55:36

You can't put streets back where you took them out.

0:55:520:55:54

You can't put stores back,

0:55:540:55:56

you can't put the daily life and all the institutions.

0:55:560:55:59

It takes generations to build up those institutions.

0:55:590:56:02

That's what was eliminated by these projects.

0:56:060:56:09

The superblock urbanism of the modernist ilk that Jane Jacobs

0:56:220:56:27

writes about as destroying cities -

0:56:270:56:30

you also have at the very same time, the automobile being rammed through.

0:56:300:56:33

This causes as many problems as the urban renewal projects.

0:56:360:56:41

The most profound influence on the city in the last 100 years has been

0:56:440:56:49

the automobile.

0:56:490:56:51

The decision made almost inevitably, was to drive the freeways,

0:56:540:56:58

the interstates, right through the cities and through neighbourhoods,

0:56:580:57:02

whose value city elites and developers wanted to ultimately reclaim.

0:57:020:57:07

We wouldn't have any American economy

0:57:100:57:12

without the automobile business.

0:57:120:57:14

That is literally true.

0:57:140:57:16

To believe that this is a great industry that has to go on and has

0:57:160:57:19

to keep on turning out cars and trucks and buses,

0:57:190:57:22

then there have to be places for them to run.

0:57:220:57:24

There have to be modern roads.

0:57:240:57:26

The first of Moses' commandments for progress is - thou shalt drive.

0:57:260:57:31

Jane Jacobs is one of the very first

0:57:370:57:39

people to say the car is not supreme.

0:57:390:57:43

The people who walk on the sidewalk are what makes the city.

0:57:430:57:46

It isn't hard to understand that producing and consuming automobiles

0:57:470:57:51

might seem all-important to the management of Ford

0:57:510:57:54

and Chrysler and General Motors,

0:57:540:57:56

but it's harder to understand why the production and

0:57:560:58:00

consumption of automobiles should be the purpose of life for all the rest of us.

0:58:000:58:04

Moses was about realising a very particular vision of the American Dream,

0:58:080:58:13

that was - what's good for General Motors is good for the United States of America.

0:58:130:58:18

I am privileged to present the winner of the award,

0:58:180:58:22

Robert Moses of New York.

0:58:220:58:23

Robert Moses, New York City Construction Coordinator,

0:58:280:58:31

is a world-famous highway planner.

0:58:310:58:33

A man who knows his business.

0:58:330:58:35

What he was really doing was tearing up vital neighbourhoods, for example,

0:58:390:58:43

in the South Bronx, where he built the Cross Bronx Expressway.

0:58:430:58:46

It's just the single most destructive decision

0:58:560:58:59

ever made about US cities.

0:58:590:59:01

The Cross Bronx Expressway,

0:59:010:59:03

an artery whose history was marked by such gigantic problems of

0:59:030:59:06

construction, financing, relocation and organised obstruction,

0:59:060:59:11

that it took 17 years to complete.

0:59:110:59:13

The Cross Bronx Expressway ripped through the heart and the middle of

0:59:230:59:27

the Bronx, creating what was a wall between what eventually was known as

0:59:270:59:32

the northern and the southern part of the Bronx.

0:59:320:59:34

Robert Moses thought he would get away with anything.

0:59:370:59:39

Who was going to stop him?

0:59:390:59:40

He's got all the city politicians around him,

0:59:400:59:43

it was bringing in a lot of federal money from the

0:59:430:59:45

Federal Highway Programme.

0:59:450:59:47

And that gets passed around.

0:59:490:59:51

Today, our greatest single problem is tenant removal.

0:59:520:59:58

The tendency on the part of people in politics as well as those who are

0:59:591:00:03

living on these rights-of-way who are immediately affected...

1:00:031:00:09

is to assume that the people who are doing this job are unsympathetic

1:00:091:00:14

or even sadistic.

1:00:141:00:16

Of course, that isn't the truth at all.

1:00:181:00:21

But when you remove the daily life, when you remove the stores,

1:00:211:00:25

remove the places that constitute where they spend time,

1:00:251:00:30

what we would call the public realm - the sidewalks, the bars,

1:00:301:00:34

the grocery stores, you remove the city.

1:00:341:00:37

And that's what Jane Jacobs says,

1:00:381:00:40

you draw away the people with a prescription that is guaranteed to

1:00:401:00:44

hurt cities.

1:00:441:00:46

Well, you have to bullet through, you've got to do it.

1:00:461:00:49

It's like all these things that happen with opposition.

1:00:491:00:51

The fact that 2,000 people come and agitate against the extension of an

1:00:511:00:55

expressway doesn't prove that you're not going to build the expressway.

1:00:551:00:59

So many of the problems of the South Bronx grew directly out of the

1:01:011:01:06

devastation caused by building that expressway.

1:01:061:01:08

Which, of course, became totally

1:01:111:01:13

gridlocked 15 minutes after it was open.

1:01:131:01:15

I mean, Moses thought he was improving the city by bringing it up to date,

1:01:171:01:21

by making it work for the automobile.

1:01:211:01:24

And as it became clear that urban highways were in fact profoundly

1:01:251:01:31

destructive, it really became a battle between opposing forces.

1:01:311:01:37

Of course, in Lower Manhattan,

1:01:401:01:43

Moses wanted to build a road right across

1:01:431:01:47

the city there. The whole Cast Iron District would have been

1:01:471:01:50

basically obliterated.

1:01:501:01:52

The Lower Manhattan Expressway was

1:01:551:01:58

to have connected the Holland Tunnel

1:01:581:02:01

with the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges.

1:02:011:02:04

It would have destroyed most of SoHo,

1:02:051:02:08

we would have lost one of the greatest inventories of 19th-century

1:02:081:02:12

buildings, not just in New York, but in the world.

1:02:121:02:14

The highways, of course,

1:02:161:02:18

destroyed the neighbourhoods that they went through.

1:02:181:02:21

Where was this going to end?

1:02:211:02:23

The whole place was going to be laced with highways.

1:02:241:02:28

What would we have left of Manhattan?

1:02:281:02:30

On any day of the week, if you walk along Canal Street,

1:02:331:02:37

and it's often faster than riding, this is what you'll see.

1:02:371:02:41

The crush of endless waiting traffic.

1:02:411:02:45

Now look at the solution -

1:02:451:02:47

the Lower Manhattan Expressway.

1:02:471:02:49

The only practical highway crossing serving the Lower Manhattan

1:02:491:02:53

commercial and business districts.

1:02:531:02:55

Can we afford to let one section of our city slowly strangle in hopeless

1:02:551:02:59

traffic congestion?

1:02:591:03:01

There was an awful campaign against that neighbourhood,

1:03:021:03:04

it was called Hell's Hundred Acres.

1:03:041:03:07

A bottled-up stagnating section of the city,

1:03:071:03:10

no new private buildings erected in 30 years.

1:03:101:03:13

A valley of economic depression.

1:03:151:03:18

The need is urgent.

1:03:181:03:20

We must have a Lower Manhattan Expressway now.

1:03:201:03:24

The local priest, a church on Broome Street,

1:03:271:03:30

had heard about Jane's successful defences fighting Moses,

1:03:301:03:34

and asked if she could help.

1:03:341:03:36

Father, what effect do you feel that

1:03:361:03:38

the expressway will have on the neighbourhood?

1:03:381:03:40

Well, the expressway will destroy the neighbourhood.

1:03:411:03:44

This is the worst thing about these monumental plans.

1:03:541:03:57

There is no way...

1:03:591:04:01

Old buildings can easily be torn down and new ones put up,

1:04:011:04:04

old things adapted to different use.

1:04:041:04:06

It's settled.

1:04:091:04:10

Well, that's not planning for the future.

1:04:101:04:12

Reminded of some of the opposition to his long-time dream for an

1:04:151:04:19

expressway across Lower Manhattan,

1:04:191:04:21

Moses was specific about what it takes to override the inevitable

1:04:211:04:25

roadblocks. You've got to move people, and the political leaders,

1:04:251:04:30

naturally, if they have people ticketed and they know where they

1:04:301:04:33

are and they vote right, they don't

1:04:331:04:34

want to move them and have them go somewhere else.

1:04:341:04:37

What I try to do in New York,

1:04:371:04:39

what we've done successfully in other places,

1:04:391:04:41

which is to pay more money to people, in cash.

1:04:411:04:44

Let them take the money and go away.

1:04:441:04:46

You have people who rent, they don't own it,

1:04:461:04:49

so what difference does it make,

1:04:491:04:51

when you are talking about an expressway that costs

1:04:511:04:53

$84 million?

1:04:531:04:54

Stop being victims.

1:04:561:04:58

I think it's wicked, in a way, to be a victim.

1:04:581:05:01

It is even wickeder to be a predator,

1:05:011:05:03

but it's wicked to be a victim and allow it.

1:05:031:05:07

You can't, as an individual, you can't do anything, but you can organise.

1:05:091:05:12

If you are being victimised by an expressway that a bureaucracy

1:05:141:05:17

is putting through for the benefit of the automobile people,

1:05:171:05:21

then you fight that, you refuse to be a victim of that.

1:05:211:05:25

What effect do you think this will have on the neighbourhood itself?

1:05:251:05:28

It will destroy the neighbourhood.

1:05:281:05:30

It's one of the few neighbourhoods where a woman can go down the

1:05:301:05:32

street's at night and be safe. And the women know it, and I know it.

1:05:321:05:35

Two or three o'clock in the morning,

1:05:351:05:37

the men are sitting in their cafes and they are watching you,

1:05:371:05:39

taking care of you. They want to build up neighbourhoods like this,

1:05:391:05:42

they say, "Let's get back to the old, save neighbourhoods." This is it.

1:05:421:05:46

"Memorandum to Arthur Hodgkiss from Robert Moses."

1:05:491:05:52

"The Lower Manhattan will move very soon.

1:05:541:05:57

"Please keep an eye on it."

1:05:571:05:59

Are you saying that they're trying to sneak it through?

1:06:021:06:05

I would say it's a safe bet.

1:06:051:06:07

If this thing is passed,

1:06:071:06:09

these are how these things happen if they are not watched.

1:06:091:06:12

It's a sleeper. Who do you think is pushing this?

1:06:121:06:15

Well...

1:06:151:06:17

There's only one man that I can think of could be pushing it.

1:06:171:06:20

They seem to think they have a choice, that they'd rather stay in

1:06:201:06:23

the houses that they've lived in all this time.

1:06:231:06:25

..the whole Federal Arterial Aid programme running into billions

1:06:251:06:30

of dollars, depend upon the votes of a very few people in one section,

1:06:301:06:34

we wouldn't build anything, nothing would be built.

1:06:341:06:37

There would be no highways, there would be no housing,

1:06:371:06:40

there would be no public improvements.

1:06:401:06:42

Please do not build this express highway.

1:06:421:06:45

Most of these people consider automobiles

1:06:451:06:47

more than the human being.

1:06:471:06:48

It is not right.

1:06:481:06:50

I think it's awful, I don't think it's fair.

1:06:501:06:53

I do not think it's very good.

1:06:531:06:55

Cos I live there, I look at my window,

1:06:551:06:58

the trucks, and cars and everything, they don't need an expressway.

1:06:581:07:01

What are they going to do? Throw me in the street?

1:07:031:07:05

After 51 years, I'm a citizen and everything.

1:07:051:07:07

It's something awful to think every day they are going to throw

1:07:071:07:11

you out. I think it's awful, they make a mistake.

1:07:111:07:15

I hope God has to be damn strict, that's what I hope.

1:07:151:07:19

Goodbye, and thank you.

1:07:191:07:20

There was going to be a defining hearing in which they would approve

1:07:231:07:29

the Expressway. And Jane said, "When they discuss this issue,

1:07:291:07:33

"I'm going to get up and I'm going to speak against it."

1:07:331:07:36

I went up to the microphone, I was very angry.

1:07:361:07:40

They weren't listening to us, they had made their decision,

1:07:401:07:43

that was clear. There were really only errand boys who had no power

1:07:431:07:47

to make decisions.

1:07:471:07:49

So, we had better let them take back a message.

1:07:491:07:52

We would never stand for this Expressway.

1:07:521:07:55

I intended just to climb up to their level and walk across the stage.

1:07:551:08:01

There was a steno typist who had a new machine.

1:08:011:08:05

She was frightened and she picked up her steno type machine

1:08:061:08:11

and clasped it to her bosom.

1:08:111:08:13

The tapes fell out of the machine

1:08:131:08:16

and ran across the floor like confetti.

1:08:161:08:19

People began tossing it in the air.

1:08:191:08:22

I knew it had to be brought to an end, so an inspiration struck me.

1:08:221:08:27

I said, "There is no hearing because the record is gone,

1:08:271:08:32

"and without a record there cannot be a hearing."

1:08:321:08:34

The Chief State person was saying,

1:08:361:08:39

"Arrest that woman, arrest that woman!"

1:08:391:08:42

As I went out, the police captain told me that I was arrested.

1:08:421:08:47

The police were very apologetic.

1:08:501:08:52

They knew who she was and what was going on.

1:08:521:08:54

She was charged with three felonies,

1:08:571:08:59

which is pretty rotten for what she did.

1:08:591:09:02

What did she do? She didn't hurt anybody.

1:09:021:09:05

She became the hero

1:09:061:09:08

and the politics did shift at that point.

1:09:081:09:11

The board of estimate in an executive session today

1:09:111:09:15

voted unanimously to turn down a

1:09:151:09:16

proposal for a Lower Manhattan Expressway.

1:09:161:09:19

The board... APPLAUSE

1:09:191:09:22

Please!

1:09:221:09:23

That was the decisive moment.

1:09:311:09:33

And Moses couldn't do anything, he was just a pure villain,

1:09:331:09:36

the politicians were villains.

1:09:361:09:38

At that point, it was clear that

1:09:391:09:41

no politician was going to get away with this.

1:09:411:09:44

The Lower Manhattan Expressway

1:09:461:09:48

was really the beginning of the end for Robert Moses.

1:09:481:09:51

Robert Moses was finally squeezed out by Nelson Rockefeller who,

1:09:541:09:59

as governor of New York,

1:09:591:10:00

might have been the first public official

1:10:001:10:03

powerful enough to call his bluff.

1:10:031:10:05

Moses was famous for threatening to resign

1:10:051:10:08

when he was unhappy with something.

1:10:081:10:09

Rockefeller said at one point, "OK."

1:10:091:10:11

And Moses had no choice, he couldn't back down and he was gone.

1:10:131:10:18

After the Moses Expressway situation was finally settled,

1:10:201:10:24

Jane felt she could go to Canada

1:10:241:10:25

with her typewriter and become a writer again.

1:10:251:10:28

Her husband, who was an architect, was building hospitals up there,

1:10:281:10:32

and their sons were there to keep out of that awful Vietnam War.

1:10:321:10:36

Of course, as soon as she got to Toronto,

1:10:361:10:38

she saw there was another Expressway heading right for her house,

1:10:381:10:42

the Spadina Expressway.

1:10:421:10:44

She stopped that too!

1:10:441:10:46

And then got to work.

1:10:461:10:48

The Lower Manhattan Expressway was officially dead in the year 1970.

1:10:481:10:54

Meanwhile, across the country,

1:10:541:10:56

these kinds of freeway revolts were taking place and similar roadways

1:10:561:11:00

were being defeated.

1:11:001:11:03

But the Lower Manhattan Expressway was really the leading example.

1:11:031:11:06

If that had happened, there would be no SoHo.

1:11:091:11:12

The entire history of development

1:11:121:11:14

and redevelopment and adaptive re-use

1:11:141:11:17

in the city would have played out in a different way.

1:11:171:11:21

It would have been the single most damaging intervention in the urban

1:11:211:11:27

fabric in Manhattan in the 20th-century.

1:11:271:11:29

Period.

1:11:291:11:31

A city is not just a physical object.

1:11:431:11:45

The city is a living thing.

1:11:491:11:51

It will always morph and change.

1:11:521:11:55

Our goal has to be to manage change well, not to freeze it in time.

1:11:561:12:02

As cities around the world are obliged to house this dramatically

1:12:051:12:09

increasing population,

1:12:091:12:11

we still have the conversation in terms of top-down versus bottom-up,

1:12:111:12:17

formality versus informality.

1:12:171:12:19

These are the eternal polarities of thinking about the city.

1:12:191:12:22

If you go to China,

1:12:281:12:30

you see huge swathes of farmland

1:12:301:12:32

that are now being urbanised in exactly

1:12:321:12:35

the model that America used in the 1950s, and we know that it failed.

1:12:351:12:40

China today is Moses on steroids, you know,

1:12:431:12:46

and the notion that Moses could not

1:12:461:12:49

have conceived of this extraordinary

1:12:491:12:54

scaling up of what it means to build.

1:12:541:12:56

In that sense, history has outdone him.

1:12:591:13:01

These isolated developments with hundreds of similar looking blocks

1:13:041:13:09

with no urbanism, no street.

1:13:091:13:11

Who can live in them? And how would you live in them?

1:13:111:13:14

What they are building today, I think...

1:13:141:13:17

..is the slums of the future.

1:13:181:13:20

And they are made in concrete, they are going to last at least 60 years.

1:13:241:13:27

We are condemning future generations to an absolute world without hope.

1:13:271:13:32

Given the scale of the problem we have,

1:13:371:13:40

that makes a completely different context

1:13:401:13:44

in which Jane Jacobs' ideas again, now, have a new incarnation.

1:13:441:13:48

With the amount of people who now need to live in cities,

1:14:161:14:19

you have to accept that you're going to need more density,

1:14:191:14:23

but a lot of densely built-up terrain...

1:14:231:14:26

..is not a city.

1:14:271:14:29

If one were to build a city, no matter how fast it is,

1:14:331:14:37

without building a great public realm, you don't have a city.

1:14:371:14:41

That's what Jane Jacobs talks about.

1:14:411:14:43

Historically, solutions to city problems

1:14:431:14:47

have very seldom come from the top.

1:14:471:14:49

They come from people who understand the problems first-hand because they

1:14:521:14:56

are living with them, and who have new and ingenious and often very

1:14:561:15:02

offbeat ideas of how to solve them.

1:15:021:15:04

The creativity and the concern and the ideas down there in city

1:15:121:15:17

neighbourhoods and city communities has to be given a chance,

1:15:171:15:21

has to be released,

1:15:211:15:23

people have to insist on government trying things their way.

1:15:231:15:26

If you gave people an environment that they could shape themselves,

1:15:301:15:33

they would not only be happier...

1:15:331:15:35

..but you would have a completely different kind of city.

1:15:371:15:39

The key thing about Jane Jacobs,

1:15:431:15:45

much more important than loving stoops and streets and stuff,

1:15:451:15:49

was a willingness to be sceptical.

1:15:491:15:52

A willingness to doubt the received wisdom.

1:15:521:15:56

And to trust our eyes instead.

1:15:561:15:59

Under the seeming disorder of the old city,

1:16:071:16:11

wherever the old city is working successfully...

1:16:111:16:14

..is a marvellous order for maintaining the safety of the street

1:16:161:16:21

and the freedom of the city.

1:16:211:16:23

It is a complex order.

1:16:261:16:27

This order is all composed of movement and change.

1:16:301:16:33

And although it is life, not art,

1:16:341:16:37

we may fancifully call it the art form of the city...

1:16:371:16:40

..and liken it to the dance.

1:16:421:16:44

Not to a simple-minded precision dance,

1:16:441:16:48

with everyone kicking up at the same time,

1:16:481:16:51

twirling in unison and bowing off en masse...

1:16:511:16:54

..but to an intricate ballet...

1:16:551:16:57

..in which the individual dancers

1:16:581:17:00

and ensembles all have distinctive parts...

1:17:001:17:03

..which miraculously reinforce each other...

1:17:051:17:07

..and compose an orderly whole.

1:17:091:17:12

Utopia - the better place.

1:17:581:18:00

Somewhere between fiction and reality.

1:18:001:18:02

The idea has exerted

1:18:021:18:04

In 1960, Jane Jacobs's book The Death and Life of Great American Cities sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds, with its exploration of modern city planning. Jacobs, a journalist, author and activist, was involved in many fights in mid-century New York, to stop 'master builder' Robert Moses from running roughshod over the city and demolishing historic neighbourhoods in pursuit of his modernist vision.

This film retraces those battles as contemporary urbanization moves to the very front of the global agenda, and examines the city of today through the life and work of one of its greatest champions.