The American Conservative has published a symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of Jane Jacobs’s book The Death and Life of the Great American Cities. The symposium features a variety of individuals reflecting on the significance of this important book. Also be sure to see the article by Austin Bramwell titled “Cobblestone Conservative.”

Here is the introduction provided by TAC:

Fifty years ago, discussion on the future of urban life was reshaped by the release of Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Today the book and its recommendations remain a hot topic among urbanism advocates, planners, architects, and sociologists — and varying interpretations still cause controversy. As Austin Bramwell writes in the October issue of The American Conservative, “Since her death in 2006, Jacobs’s reputation has continued to soar. Folk hero and philosopher, author and activist, she has entered the pantheon of beloved Americans, a mid-to-late 20th-century Mark Twain. Inevitably, her apotheosis has provoked a reaction. Even her admirers feel compelled to distance themselves from uncritical worship of Saint Jane. The skeptics are worth listening to, if only to put Jacobs’s achievement in proper context.” (Full article here).

TAC asked several writers who cover urban issues for their assessment of Jacobs’s Death and Life in its jubilee year.

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Mark T. Mitchell
Mark T. Mitchell teaches political theory at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. He is the author Michael Polanyi: The Art of Knowing and The Politics of Gratitude: Scale, Place, and Community in a Global Age (Potomac Books, 2012). He is co-editor of another book titled, The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry. Currently he is writing a book on private property. In 2008-9, while on sabbatical at Princeton University, he and Jeremy Beer hatched a plan to start a website dedicated to political decentralism, economic localism, and cultural regionalism. A group of like-minded people quickly formed around these ideas, and in March 2009, FPR was launched. Although he was raised in Montana and still occasionally longs for the west, he lives in Virginia with his wife, three sons and one daughter where they are in the process of turning a few acres into a small farm.


  1. Jane stood athwart the mad Robert Moses urge to realize Corbu’s demented reduction of urbanity into car-crazed towers in parkland called the Radiant City…a hilarious romp into totalitarianism that unfortunately fueled a few decades of public housing design. . It was planned obsolescence brought into the act of building and as usual, the power brokers loved it because it brought them contributions and power.

    Corbu redeemed himself by Ronchamp, demonstrating that architecture is best when dedicated to the craft of building individual buildings and that it falls flat-footed when it tries to Master Plan.

    Thanks for the article

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