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Jacobs' Historical Context

Jacobs' Historical Context - By the middle of the last...

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Mosaic 852 Middlesworth The Death and Life of Great American Cities: Its Historical Context Robert Moses (1888-1981) —“master builder” of the twentieth century, shaper of the modern city, particularly New York City, polarizing figure in the history of US urban planning; his works are extremely controversial, critics claiming that he preferred cars to people, that he displaced hundreds of thousands of residents in NYC, uprooted traditional neighborhoods by building expressways through them, led to the ruin of the South Bronx and the amusement parks of Coney Island and to the decline of public transport through lack of investment and attention. They maintain that Moses’ ideal of cities and parks linked by cars and highways led to the creation and expansion of decay, middle-class urban flight and inner-city blight. His supporters conversely claim that he made the city viable for the 21st century by building an infrastructure that most people wanted and that has lasted.
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Unformatted text preview: By the middle of the last century, public opinion and city planning ideals shifted away from Moses’ car-oriented vision. “Decentrists”— term that Jacobs discusses in the Introduction, defined as a group of urban planners who focused on the region, rather than strictly on the urban as the area to be addressed. Jacobs writes that the Decentrists said that “The street is bad as an environment for humans; houses should be turned away from it and faced inward, toward sheltered greens. Frequent streets are wasteful, of advantage only to real estate speculators who measure value by the block….Commerce should be segregated from residences and greens….The presence of many other people is, at best, a necessary evil, and good city planning must aim for at least an illusion of isolation and suburbany privacy.”(20) Much of Jacobs’ text is a reaction against these tenets....
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