But she kept on deflecting my questions. All she wanted to talk about was growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania. She did show me her writing room upstairs, which was a surprising bare and modest chamber about the size of a walk-in closet, with little more than a chair, desk, and typewriter. I left the session feeling rather frustrated with what I got on tape. It turned out that wily old Jane was writing a book somewhat along the same lines as the one I was planning. It would be titled Dark Age Ahead. He blogs at www.
Had she lived in a city other than New York and written thirty years earlier, her fourth chapter might have been on streetcars. New York had streetcars, but unlike other American cities it also had and has a comprehensive transport system. Elsewhere, the ripping up of streetcar lines and their replacement with buses also ripped the urban fabric. Most people like riding streetcars, but almost no one likes riding a bus.
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The substitution of buses for electric streetcars drove most former streetcar riders to drive. There, they performed multiple functions: eyes on the street, office worker, restaurant diner, shopper, theater-goer and more. Once they drove into the city, their time on sidewalks dropped and with it shrank the number of roles they filled. They drove as close to their usually single destination as they could, parked, and walked only as far as necessary. Stores, restaurants, and theaters moved to the suburbs where parking was easier.
If Ohio had tumbleweeds, they would now blow down Euclid Avenue. Cities such as Portland, Oregon and Kenosha, Wisconsin that have brought streetcars back have found the sidewalks come to life again.
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So have shops, theaters and restaurants. Streetcars are pedestrian facilitators, more so than subways. People walk, take the streetcar, then get off and walk some more. Cities need streetcars. They are not a cure-all; if people do not feel safe on city sidewalks, nothing will move them to walk there. But if a city can restore order, streetcars are more likely to fill its sidewalks with people than anything else. It is hard to know where to start about the legacy of Jane Jacobs, but the easiest and most personal is that she was the catalyst for many people to get into urbanism as a career.
Whether as an architect, real estate developer, urban planner, community advocate, or just a resident, many people had a veil pulled back that such a field even existed. She taught that walkable urban places were a distinct and threatened way of living and making a living.
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Jane Jacobs also showed the complexity of these places; they were not formulas to be imposed from above. Walkable urban places are organic and grow from the dirt of a specific place. Just as she brought urbanism to the attention of millions of people, it went into suspended animation. The market demand of the s through the s was for the very opposite of walkable urbanism, drivable suburban development. The explosion of car-dominated suburbs is what the returning World War II vets wanted and where the baby boom was raised.
The heart of the industrial age was the providing the raw materials, building, financing, insuring, building the roads, servicing, fueling and maintaining the cars that drove, literally and figuratively, the drivable suburban development patterns of the late 20th century. Yet when the market turned, which seems to have occurred in the mids, going back to demanding walkable urban places once again, there she was to teach the Millennial generation how to do it. She would have been very pleased to see the many downtowns that have redeveloped and the downtown adjacent places that evolved from abandoned sections of our cities.
But she probably would have been surprised to see the urbanization of the suburbs. The 19th-century suburban town centers, like Princeton, Pasadena and Bethesda, and the redevelopment of strip commercial into complex walkable urban grids with mixed-use development might have been a pleasant shock. Same lessons, different locations. Finally, she taught Americans and democratic peoples around the world about the abuse of absolute power.
Goliath standoff. Her defeat of the cross-Manhattan expressway that would have destroyed SoHo, which today is some of the most expensive real estate in the world on a price per square foot basis, gave hope to urbanists everywhere. And it showed that millions of small decisions made by thousands of people, in other words the market, is better than a top-down government in any era. The walkable urbanism Jane Jacobs was advocating can put an economic foundation under the American economy in the early 21st century, a foundation that it desperately needs to get out of the economic ditch we are in.
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Christopher Leinberger is a visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution, professor of real estate development at the University of Michigan, and a metropolitan land strategist and developer. He is the author of The Option of Urbanism. Death and Life is suffused with the idea that the welfare of individual persons — not the efficiency of infrastructure or continued economic growth — should be the primary aim of good city design.
Her recognition that particular persons often suffered at the hands of the abstract theory of modernist planners led to a skepticism of big universal schemes imposed on the urban landscape. It was a moment that enabled and amplified the conditions of modernity: contested norms, pluralism, and a deracinated population settling alongside persons with whom they had seemingly little in common.
Jacobs was not Aristotelian in the same sense as some who wish to restore the scale and constant face-to-face interaction of the classical polis. But her method of investigation was broadly inspired by Aristotle. They are always made up of interactions among unique combinations of particulars, and there is no substitute for knowing the particulars.
The most important particulars are people. Jane Jacobs understood this, and it continues to set Death and Life apart in the canon of urban planning. He tweets at LewisMcCrary. Since World War II, our economy—that is to say, our culture of work, leisure, and home—has been constructed around the ideal of easy mobility, which has contributed to the dis-integration of various aspects of our lives. We live in one place, work in another, shop in another, worship in another, and take our leisure somewhere else.
However, an integrated life, that is a life of integrity, is one characterized by membership in a community in which one lives, works, worships, and conducts other significant human activities. Our modern mobile life is an historical anomaly built on an abundance of cheap oil. Those days may soon be gone. Jacobs is interested in the complex, often messy, ingredients that contribute to human flourishing. The income items missed by the Census Bureau are increasing faster than the income items included in its money income measure. What many observers miss, however, is the success of the nation's tax and transfer systems in protecting low- and middle-income Americans against the full effects of a depressed economy.
As the CBO statistics demonstrate, incomes in the middle and at the bottom of the distribution have fared better since than incomes at the very top. Inequality can be measured before and after the effects of taxes and transfer payments such as social security and unemployment insurance. Comparisons of income over time should adjust for changes in average age, family size, number of breadwinners, and other characteristics of a population.
Measuring personal income ignores dependent children, but household income also has problems — a household of ten has a lower standard of living than one of two people, though the income of the two households may be the same.
Conservative researchers and organizations have focused on the flaws of household income as a measure for standard of living in order to refute claims that income inequality is growing, becoming excessive or posing a problem for society. High earning households are more likely to be dual earner households,  And according to a analysis of income quintile data by the Heritage Foundation , inequality becomes less when household income is adjusted for size of household. Aggregate share of income held by the upper quintile the top earning 20 percent decreases by However the Pew Research Center found household income has appeared to decline less than individual income in the twenty-first century because those who are no longer able to afford their own housing have increasingly been moving in with relatives, creating larger households with more income earners in them.
Overall, according to Timothy Noah, correcting for demographic factors today's population is older than it was 33 years ago, and divorce and single parenthood have made households smaller , you find that income inequality, though less extreme than shown by the standard measure, is also growing faster than shown by the standard measure. The Gini coefficient summarizes income inequality in a single number and is one of the most commonly used measures of income inequality. It uses a scale from 0 to 1 — the higher the number the more inequality. Zero represents perfect equality everyone having exactly the same income , and 1 represents perfect inequality one person having all income.
Index scores are commonly multiplied by to make them easier to understand.
For example, the U. Census Bureau's official Gini coefficient for the United States was Professor Salvatore Babones of the University of Sydney notes: . A major gap in the measurement of income inequality is the exclusion of capital gains , profits made on increases in the value of investments. Capital gains are excluded for purely practical reasons.
The Census doesn't ask about them, so they can't be included in inequality statistics. Obviously, the rich earn much more from investments than the poor. As a result, real levels of income inequality in America are much higher than the official Census Bureau figures would suggest. Conservative researchers have argued that income inequality is not significant because consumption, rather than income should be the measure of inequality, and inequality of consumption is less extreme than inequality of income in the US.
Will Wilkinson of the libertarian Cato Institute states that "the weight of the evidence shows that the run-up in consumption inequality has been considerably less dramatic than the rise in income inequality," and consumption is more important than income. Others dispute the importance of consumption over income, pointing out that if middle and lower income are consuming more than they earn it is because they are saving less or going deeper into debt. Related to income inequality is the topic of wealth inequality, which refers to the distribution of net worth i.
Net worth is affected by movements in the prices of assets, such as stocks, bonds, and real estate, which can fluctuate significantly over the short-term. Income inequality also has a significant effect over long-term shifts in wealth inequality, as income is accumulated.
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