It’s the “year of Jane,” the centenary of Jane Jacobs’s birth. To mark the occasion, several new books about Jacobs are being released in 2016 and 2017, including a definitive biography and the first new collection of Jacobs’s writing since her death in 2006.Robert Kanigel’s Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs was released on September 20th and is generating acclaim (read review excerpts here).
A necessary companion to that biography is Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs, edited by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring. The book collects Jacobs’s essays, speeches, interviews, previously unpublished material, and even a poem. Divided into five parts, Vital Little Plans charts Jacobs’s evolution as a writer and thinker. Zipp and Storring provide context through a general introduction and section introductions.
Much has been made of the fact that Jane Jacobs as we largely know her (the pavement-pounding protestor, resisting the Lower Manhattan Expressway and the Spadina Expressway; writer of the urban planning classic, The Death and Life of Great American Cities) didn’t “become Jane Jacobs” until she was middle-aged. Vital Little Plans, however, shows that many of the topics and theories she was famous for engaging with later in life were generally prevalent in her writing and thinking at an early age, including her first pieces on the city for Vogue.
I’m proud to have been the Canadian editor of Vital Little Plans. Released just this week, the book is already receiving plenty of media attention. Read on for a few select articles…