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In her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs makes a valid and interesting argument concerning the state of the nation's cities. Even though the book was first published over forty-five years ago, the information that Jacobs presents is still relevant.


As I was reading the text, I felt compelled to verify the facts that were presented against my own personal experience of growing up in a major East Coast city. It is always a treat to re-examine my own home town from someone else's perspective. Without a doubt I found Jacobs' poignant assessment of city life was something with which I could strongly identify. Each section of the text highlights a critical aspect of the city that becomes through Jacobs' voice a substantial statement about the inner workings of the urban community. At first glance some of the subject matter might seem peripheral but for the exceptional insight and understanding demonstrated by the author. I didn't know that a man-made landscape could be considered a living organism until Jacobs made the reference to a city being a kind of ecosystem. Everything needs to be balanced and in harmony for all of the occupants to survive in such a fragile place.
Nothing makes you think "city" more than the idea of the sidewalk, which is the pedestrian's portion of a city street. Investigating the sidewalk is surely an essential component to gaining an understanding of any urban community. ...
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