Essay on Jane Jacobs

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The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety and Contact

Cities are generators of economic life and source of changes in the world. Thereby, Jane Jacobs in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities puts into relief the role of cities on the social and economic levels, while denouncing the disastrous consequences of urban renewal programs. To that extent, in chapters 2 and 3, she discusses "The Uses of Sidewalks”, arguing that over all people need safety and trust in their city. Therefore, first she claims the necessity of keeping streets and sidewalks safe because they are the “vital organs” of cities (29). Secondly, she argues that the functioning of cities should be organized in order to foster human interaction in which “casual public
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In addition, she extends the idea of eyes upon the street showing that using and watching the street not only guarantees the safety, but it makes the street more attractive. She argues: “the sight of people attracts still other people” (37). Here, she points out the fact that people like watching other people and activities around them. Nobody likes places where there is nothing to see or to do. Interesting streets are attractive because we see different people, and different activities or businesses. In short, the more a street is frequented, the more it is secure and interesting and vice-versa. Safe streets and sidewalks contribute to the economic expansion of the city and the social fulfillment of people. Then we can conclude that safety is a one of primordial factor to the social and economic development of the city.
Approaching in the same direction of the importance of safety, Jacobs also discusses the theme of confidence in the streets, which is trust. She mentions the concept of “sidewalks casual public trust.” First, trust may evolve from human contact and interaction in public. Jacobs explains human interaction in these words:
Cities are full of people with whom, from your viewpoint, or mine, or any other individual’s, a certain degree of contact is useful or enjoyable; but you do not want them in your hair. And they do not want you in theirs either. (56) From interaction with fellows in public spaces people are inclined to trust everyone
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