Friday, November 4, 2011

Moses v. Jacobs: Who Lived the Abogo Lifestyle?

via Abogo

The quintessential struggle over what urban planning and planners should do and be is encapsulated by the differing viewpoints of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. The two have come to represent opposing threads in the big urban planning issues of the day, many of which still resonate right now:
  • Should cities be planned incrementally and organically or transformed in one enormous, expensive, methodical fell swoop?
  • Should the design and purpose of a place be left to outside experts or the community residents who may have never seen a traffic demand model or market study in their lives?
  • Should a transportation plan prioritize the needs of those trying to travel through a community or those who live there? Does it prioritize the driver, the transit rider, the cyclist, or the pedestrian?
Robert Moses is recognized for his top-down, large-scale, car-oriented planning as a state and city bureaucrat in New York from the 1920s to the1960s. He built numerous bridges, tunnels, and expressways around New York City. On the other end of the spectrum is Jane Jacobs, whose famous The Death and Life of Great American Cities is a direct critique of Moses’ theories. Jacobs argued that compact, walkable, mixed use neighborhoods are what gave cities life and made them successful economically and socially. Today we view many of her observations and recommendations as the sustainable urban ideal. Neither Moses nor Jacobs made any sort of argument about transportation costs when talking about how cities should work. Transportation costs were largely a non-issue because the price of gas and getting around were cheap and climate change wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Were Moses and Jacobs alive and living in the New York region today, how would the urban form affect their transportation costs?

Rober Moses Causeway, New York, phto by dougtone

Rober Moses Causeway, New York, phto by dougtone

similar posts about Jane Jacobs:

To walk the path of Jane Jacobs – review of What We See, Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs

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