Today marks 100 years since the birth of Jane Jacobs, a secretary from Greenwich Village who, angered by a scheme to erect a Manhattan Expressway through nearby SoHo and Little Italy, ended up changing urban planning forever. Even though Jacobs had no formal training or college degree, the activist’s influential 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, turned urban planning upside down. She argued that cities were living organisms that should be fun to live in, and criticized developments or freeways that isolated communities from the activity around it. Her clarion call caused cities like Baltimore to embrace mixed use development, which transformed its Inner Harbor from urban decay into a major tourist attraction. WATCH a short bio… (1916)
Jacobs believed her philosophy is what keeps cities safe, and coined the term, “eyes on the street”. She moved to Toronto in 1968 where she continued her work and also influenced Vancouver, BC’s urban planning for which she has been called “the mother of Vancouverism”, referring to that city’s use of her “density done well” philosophy. She passed away in 2006; read more of her remarkable life in Wikipedia.
MORE Good News on this Day:
- The U.S. state of Michigan ended the death penalty (1846)
- The National Association, the first professional baseball league, opened its first season in Fort Wayne, Indiana (1871)
- Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea (1953)
- Margaret Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1979)
- Latvia proclaimed the renewal of its independence after the Soviet occupation (1990)
- Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed a peace accord regarding Palestinian autonomy granting self-rule in the Gaza Strip and Jericho (1994)
- Today is International Firefighters Day, first proclaimed in Australia, but now observed worldwide (1999)
- The Milwaukee Art Museum addition, the first Santiago Calatrava-designed structure in the United States, opened to the public along the shoreline of Lake Michigan (2001)
- The power company, American Electric Power Ohio, began offering $1 million in grants to lower income homeowners having trouble paying soaring energy bills (2009)
And, on this day in 1961, 13 volunteer activists, called Freedom Riders, began their bus trip through the south to protest lingering segregation on public transportation and in restaurants, even though five years earlier discrimination against blacks on buses had been declared unconstitutional. The original group of 13 — 7 blacks and 6 white — which included current congressman John Lewis, grew to as many as 1,000 riders. During their journey, one bus was fire-bombed and riders were beaten by angry white mobs with chains to unconsciousness. . .
The ride ended May 25 in Jackson, Mississippi, when they were arrested, Lewis spending 37 days in jails and a state penitentiary. The Freedom Riders gave world publicity to the racial discrimination suffered by African Americans and, in doing so, helped to bring about positive change. President Kennedy and attorney general Robert Kennedy finally made a move to try to protect the riders and change the accepted rules of transportation in the south that ignited the protests. (source: wikipedia)