Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.
Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
City of Birth: Scranton, Pennsylvania
Field: Urban development
Innovation: Framework for understanding and promoting the vitality of cities
Idea: Jane Jacobs turned urban planning discourse on its head in the late 1950s. Writing at the height of the “planned city” approach to urban development, Jacobs provides an alternative framework, based on observations of existing social, political, and economic functions of dynamic city neighborhoods. Jacobs introduced ideas of social capital and mixed-use neighborhoods.
Influence: Applications of Jacobs' work is manifested in built spaces all over the world. She pioneered the mixed-use city—a city in which residential, leisure, and commercial spaces overlap, and inform one another. Jacobs’ ideas influenced all actors in city development—including city planners, investors, businesses, and city residents.
Jacobs' legacy is visible and invisible; its most literal impact can be seen in neighborhoods like New York’s Greenwich Village, where she organized local residents to reject plans based on the planned city. Jacobs has influenced great cities all over the world. And, as great innovations do, her thinking now influences schools of thought in urban planning, but also in politics, international development, sociology, and economics.