Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who tops "Top Urbanist" list?

The votes are in and - no surprise - Jane Jacobs has topped the voting of the 100 Top Urban Thinkers. If you don't want to take the time to follow the link to all 100, here are the Top 10:
1. Jane Jacobs
2. Andres Duany
3. Christopher Alexander
4. Frederick Law Olmsted
5. Kevin A. Lynch
6. Daniel Burnham
7. Lewis Mumford
8. Leon Krier
9. William H. Whyte
10. Jan Gehl

Sad to say, Charlotte's Terry Shook dropped off the list during the voting. And am I being persnickety in wondering if there's a whiff of sexism in the No. 2 position for Andres Duany and his partner (and wife, and dean of the U. of Miami School of Architecture) Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is way down at No. 24? Yes, Andres is the showman of the pair, no doubt. But still ...

Jane Jacobs' topping the list provides me with a chance to tout a new book about the Manhattan activist's battles with Robert Moses (who also made the list, but at No. 23, just below Baron Haussmann, who remade Paris in the 1800s). It's "Wrestling With Moses," by Anthony Flint. It's an excellent and readable account, and since biographies of Jacobs aren't plentiful it helps to fill some blanks in our understanding of her life and work. Here's a link to a long and excellent article about the book in The New Republic from Harvard's Ed Glaeser (who made Planetizen's list at No. 51).

Back to Jacobs being No. 1 - Here's one intriguing thought from Rick Cole, city manager of Ventura, Calif.:

"We're all better off for more attention being drawn to the work of Jane Jacobs -- not just 'Death and Life [of Great American Cities]' but her later work on economics and cities. While I thoroughly enjoyed reading Tony's book, I don't share his view that Jane Jacobs has won the legacy battle. The widespread embrace of her work is often shallow, and developers continue to push megadevelopments that look cute, but are barren monocultures that cannot replicate the 'complexity' she celebrated."


Anonymous said...

Who cares????

Anonymous said...

Where's bissell hayes. Didn't he do ballantyne?

tajblues said...

I believe Bissell Hayes tops the Sub-urbanism list.

tozmervo said...

As much as we applaud Jane Jacobs, it is still disheartening how much her basic theories (or "common sense" depending on your point of view) still get tossed aside in day to day planning and development.

At the end of the day, "Eyes on the Street" isn't just some romantic notion about safe streets and communities that look out for each other. It is a proven, numbers-supported effect. And yet, there is still so much development that is completely unforgiving to efforts at building communities and street spaces that people want to occupy.

Linnea said...

To me, the Bissell family and others involved in planning Ballantyne and its ilk top the "worst" list. Development in this city is in three places: south, north (Lake Norman area) and center (downtown; I refuse to call it "uptown"). Any other area of town is pretty much up a creek without a paddle. (FWIW, I live in the Ballantyne area, have for 10 years, and still don't feel part of a "community.")

I'd like to live in a Jane Jacobs world. Too bad it doesn't exist in Charlotte.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ludwig Von Mises

Anonymous said...

Ron Paul