“Jane’s large ideas grew from many small observations. She listened to ‘snatches of party conversation’ or sometimes to singing or even crying at three o’clock in the morning…Jane saw that, day or night, the street was safe because it was always in use. To her, these comings and goings appeared as ‘an intricate sidewalk ballet.'” (p. 39)
During the early 1960s, a book called The Death and Life of Great American Cities changed the way many people think about city life and city planning. Jane Jacobs, the author of this book, was a well known presence during the urban renewal movement of the 1950s. Despite a lack of formal architectural training, Jacobs offered a fresh perspective on what makes city life operate successfully. Her keen observations and willingness to back up her convictions with action made Jacobs a force to be reckoned with when modern ideas about demolition, expansion and renovation threatened the rich and vibrant city she loved.
Both a biography of Jacob’s life and the book that made her infamous, Genius of Common Sense is an insightful and quick read that encourages young people to not only observe the world around them, but also that their actions can have a powerful effect on the world.