Does This Actually Honor Jane Jacobs?
Jane Jacobs. Photo via http://eng10181.files.wordpress.com.

Jane Jacobs. Photo via

The New York Times‘s City Room blog is reporting that Jane Jacobs’ block of Hudson Street, that most iconic block of the sidewalk ballet and the White Horse tavern and so many more phrases and characters iconic to anyone who cares about cities, is going to be renamed in Jacobs’ honor.

In some ways, it seems so fitting. Of all the streets given honorific names, is there anyone for whom that particular honor would be more appropriate?

But at the same time,  I actually wonder what Jane Jacobs herself would think of it. One of the things I most respect about Jacobs’ work is that it is not about her. The planner does not get primacy in her work; the men, women and children who use the streets are the characters in her telling.

It’s probably a nice thing, but it just sits uneasily with me. The street already is forever connected with Jacobs and the survival of Greenwich Village seems like the only monument that Jacobs would want for herself.

Does anyone else share my unease, or am I being crazy?

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  • http://www.onlineveracity.com/ Andy

    Sounds like a teachable moment.

  • Kevin

    Ditto on that. Naming things for great people who aren’t in the business of buying their own plaques is generally the best practice.

  • Elaine

    You’re being crazy. Of course Jane Jacobs’ work wasn’t about her, in the same way Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy wasn’t about him. This is exactly the kind of naming we should encourage — recognizing the people and institutions who made the place better. I think it’s perfect.

  • http://exquisitestruggle.blogspot.com/ Andrew J. Faulkner

    Who can know how she would feel? I do think that a unified neighborhood low-rise mixed-use zoning overlay with provisions for walkability would be a far greater memorial. Perhaps legislation geared at creating complete streets or festival streets would also be appropriate.

    I think it would be far more appropriate to name I-5 in Southern California for Robert Moses.