Welcome to Culture of Congestion! I’ll be posting quotes, ideas, and short essays relating to a book I’m writing, which I might describe as “What I have learned from the economic and social theory of Jane Jacobs.” My hope is to get thoughtful, informed feedback that will be useful in shaping the book.
The Latest at Culture of Congestion
Viewing cities as spontaneous orders and not as works of art helps to explain the tradeoff between scale and order, as well as the role of time in softening the severity of that tradeoff. Complexity and creativity are at odds with scale and the comprehensiveness of design because increasing scale impinges on the action spaces where creative, informal contact tends to happen. … [Read More...]
Before we can correct what we think is wrong with a city, we need an appropriate standard of what is right. That standard of rightness in turn depends on our understanding how the thing we are trying to fix is supposed to work.In this regard I’m afraid neither standard macroeconomics nor microeconomics is much help at all.In traditional macroeconomics, too much … [Read More...]
First of all, Jacobs observed that the artist abstracts from life, with all its “inclusiveness” and “literally endless intricacy.” Many architects, especially those with great ambition, seem to treat urban environments as merely a canvas for their works of genius, which if not already blank needs to be wiped clean before getting to work. The good ones at least try to take into … [Read More...]
As Jacobs explains in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities: Artists, whatever their medium, make selections from the abounding materials of life, and organize these selections into works that are under the control of the artist…the essence of the process is disciplined, highly discriminatory selectivity from life. In relation to the inclusiveness and the … [Read More...]
One of the popular sports broadcasts I used to watch as a kid promised interviews with athletes that would bring them to you “up close and personal.” As I was once waiting in line to order coffee at one of my favorite local coffeehouses there were several people ahead of me. I followed the “barista” taking orders, with his dark-framed glasses, reddish beard, and slightly … [Read More...]
"In fine, I see from our example that human society holds and is knit together at any cost whatever. Whatever position you set men in, they pile up and arrange themselves by moving and crowding together just as ill-matched objects, put in a bag without order, find of themselves a way to unite and fall into place together, often better than they could have been arranged by art." … [Read More...]