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
One argument against bus lanes, bicycle lanes, congestion pricing, elimination of minimum parking requirements, or indeed almost any transportation improvement that gets in the way of high-speed automobile traffic is that such changes to the status quo might make sense in the Upper West Side, but that outer borough residents need cars.This argument is based on the … [Read More...]
Here's something I hadn't thought of in quite this way (but many others probably have): In a living city, space is cheap enough so that people with wacky (often "terrible") new ideas can test them out, while wealthier people in that city search for wacky new things to try out (because they've experienced a lot of other things). In "creative" markets, such as for art, the demand … [Read More...]
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...]