The Death & Life of Great American Cities – 5

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, has taken the revitalized sense that parks tend to bring to its attendees, to an area that “need[s] the boon of life and appreciation… [because] they are supposed to be the “lungs of the city”” (Jacob 116). Lately, I have been reading excerpts from Frederick Law Olmsted, as well as Andrew Jackson Downing. Both park and public space connoisseurs harped on the role that parks play. In their time they were to serve as a mixing park, breaking down any socioeconomic barrier, as they still should serve to today. Jacob’s approach is much more different as she takes a more realistic approach that both park goers and non-parkgoers have the ability to understand.Down-LA-River-Part-4-SRO-Park-on-Skid-Row

Jacob’s arguments about parks in this specific chapter focus on the uses of neighborhood parks. Her theory is that “neighborhood parks reveal certain general principles about park behavior [much more that a] specialized park [can]” (118).

Being the “lungs of the city”, parks have taken a huge responsibility in how the community itself is viewed.

The use of parks have been neglected and the “neighborhood[s] or district[s] have failed to attach itself with affection, [ridding the park of its] symbolism” (134).

Parks are everywhere, even in depressed neighborhoods and those parks bring the neighborhood down even more. Essentially neighborhood parks are a complete representation of their surroundings. There are people living in squalor that are surrounding parks that have once been the highlight of the town. Many have become crime areas or have just become a gathering place for the “homeless, the unemployed, article-2716601-20471A6100000578-98_634x437and the people of indigent leisure” (120).

The way that Jane Jacobs assesses her stance on parks can help various communities rebuild, rehabilitate and recreate a lively common space- those “well-located parks that can give back grace and delight to their neighborhoods instead of vacuity” (145). We don’t always want to think of parks as an underused, unpopular, and troubling areas.

For those parks and public spaces that have been neglected, we must build them back up because it is a reflection of the community. Create an intricate area that in which all can enjoy and “generate mutual support from diverse uses” (128).

What I have come to understand is that when thinking of how to upbuild your community, it is vital to not exclude your neighborhood parks. Jacobs even includes four elements that generalized public parks have: intricacy, centering, the sun, and enclosure (135). With all elements included you will have a centralized, diverse area where you can allow nature to take its course, soaking you in the sun and still feel in a safe place.


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