Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an American-born Canadian urbanist, writer and activist, most famous as author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States. In 1968, Jacobs moved to Toronto, where she lived until her death.
- I would spend a nickel on the subway and go arbitrarily to some other stop and look around there. So I was roaming the city in the afternoons and applying for jobs in the morning. And one day I found myself in a neighborhood I just liked so much…it was one of those times I had put a nickel in and just invested something. And where did I get out? I just liked the sound of the name: Christopher Street — so I got out at Christopher Street, and I was enchanted with this neighborhood, and walked around it all afternoon and then I rushed back to Brooklyn. And I said, "Betty I found out where we have to live."
- I did have an inkling that I was going to be a writer. That was my intention.
- Interview in Toronto Canada (6 September 2000), by Jim Kunstler, Metropolis Magazine (March 2001)
- Great cities are not like towns, only larger. They are not like suburbs, only denser. They differ from towns and suburbs in basic ways, and one of them is that cities are, by definition, full of strangers.
- p. 30
- It may be that we have become so feckless as a people that we no longer care how things do work, but only what kind of quick, easy outer impression they give. If so, there is little hope for our cities or probably for much else in our society. But I do not think this is so.
- p. 71
- A region is an area safely larger than the last one to whose problems we found no solution.
- p. 410
Dark Age Ahead (2004)
- This is both a gloomy and a hopeful book.
The subject itself is gloomy. A Dark Age is a culture's dead end. We in North America and Western Europe, enjoying the many benefits of the culture conventionally known as the West, customarily think of a Dark Age as happening once, long ago, following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. But in North America we live in a graveyard of lost aboriginal cultures, many of which were decisively finished off by mass amnesia in which even the memory of what was lost was also lost. Throughout the world Dark Ages have scrawled finis to successions of cultures receding far into the past.
- Chapter One, The Hazard, p. 3
- The salient mystery of Dark Ages sets the stage for mass amnesia. People living in vigorous cultures typically treasure those cultures and resist any threat to them. How and why can a people so totally discard a formerly vital culture that it becomes vitally lost?
- Chapter One, The Hazard, p. 4
- Writing, printing, and the Internet give a false sense of security about the permanence of culture.
- Chapter One, The Hazard, p. 5
- While politicians, clergy, creators of advertisements, and other worthies assert stoutly that the family is the foundation of society, the nuclear family, as an institution, is currently in grave trouble.
- Chapter Two, Families Rigged To Fail, p. 29
- Credentialing, not education, has become the primary business of North American universities.
- Chapter Three, Credentialing Versus Educating, p. 44
- To science, not even the bark of a tree or a drop of pond water is dull or a handful of dirt banal. They all arouse awe and wonder.
- Chapter Four, Science Abandoned, p. 64-65
- One wonders at the docility of the students who evidently must be satisfied enough with the credentials to be uncaring about the lack of education.
- Chapter Four, Science Abandoned, p. 79
- Subsidiarity is the principle that government works best — most responsibly and responsively — when it is closest to the people it serves and the needs it addresses. Fiscal accountability is the principle that institutions collecting and disbursing taxes work most responsibly when they are transparent to those providing the money.
- Chapter Five, Dumb-Down Taxes, p. 103
- Virtually all ideologues, of any variety, are fearful and insecure, which is why they are drawn to ideologies that promise prefabricated answers for all circumstances.
- Chapter Five, Dumb-Down Taxes, p. 115
- Advanced cultures are usually sophisticated enough, or have been sophisticated enough at some point in their pasts, to realize that foxes shouldn't be relied on to guard henhouses.
- Chapter Six, Self-Policing Subverted, p. 131
- In wretched outcomes, the devil is in the details.
- Chapter Seven, Unwinding Vicious Spirals, p. 153
- Redundancy is expensive but indispensable.
- Chapter Seven, Unwinding Vicious Spirals, p. 159
- Beneficent spirals, operating by benign feedback, mean that everything needful is not required at once: each individual improvement is beneficial for the whole
- Chapter Eight, Dark Age Patterns, p. 175
- I have learned yet again (this has been going on all my life) what folly it is to take any thing for granted without examining it skeptically.
- Notes And Comments, p. 179
- Privately run jails are a mark of American "reinvented government" that has been picked up by neoconservatives in Canada.
- Notes And Comments, p. 189