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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume II, Wellbeing and the Environment by Elizabeth Burton, Rachel Cooper, Cary L. Cooper

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5

Neighborhoods and Social Interaction

Scott C. Brown and Joanna Lombard

University of Miami, U.S.A.

Introduction

In 1961, Jane Jacobs issued a clarion call. In her enormously successful book, The death and life of great American cities, she drew upon her extensive, detailed, and intimate observations of daily life in New York City, her experience as an urban design and architecture critic, and an analytical, activist approach to launch what she called an “attack on current city planning and rebuilding,” with the intent “to introduce new principles of city planning and rebuilding” (Jacobs, 1961/1992, p. 3). She focused on “how cities work in real life,” which she believed was “the only way to learn what principles of planning and what practices in rebuilding can promote social and economic vitality in cities, and what practices and principles will deaden these attributes” (pp. 3–4).

Jacobs (1961/1992) concentrated on “great cities” and urban neighborhoods because of the imminent destruction that was taking place through urban renewal and highway construction projects, and she believed that planning theory had completely overlooked the nature of these conditions (p. 16). Although she cautioned against applying her observations to the planning of small cities, towns, and suburbs, she acknowledged that her work might achieve a “somewhat wider usefulness as time passes” (p. 16). She recognized that many of the parts of the cities that were particularly troubled in 1961 had once been ...

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