Writer and urban activist Jane Jacobs died at age 89. The urban development theorist died this week at Toronto Western Hospital. Jacobs was born to a Jewish family in Scranton, Pa., and moved to New York City during the Great Depression. She confronted the city over development plans for her neighborhood, including a planned highway through Washington Square Park. She settled in Toronto in the late 1960s, partly to protest the Vietnam War. She is best known for her 1961 book, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” which changed the way people view urban spaces. Influenced by her home, situated over a candy store in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, Jacobs suggested short, multipurpose streets, dense populations and buildings that were diverse in age and function. This countered the belief, commonly held at the time, that governments should level poor urban neighborhoods to make room for new housing or highways. Jacobs was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1996.
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