Urban critic, journalist, and long-time PPS board member Roberta Gratz is the author of a new book, “The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs,” a revisionist story of New York City’s recovery from the economic crisis of the 1960’s and 70’s. While many credit Moses with Manhattan’s renewal, Gratz’ book charts a new narrative: according to Gratz, Gotham recovered precisely because of his waning influence and a lack of big government funding for urban renewal projects. Gratz argues New York regenerated organically, according to the precepts defined by Jane Jacobs in her classic, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” Gratz’s book, which also details her experiences growing up New York during this time of transformation and her friendship with Jacobs, offers an on-the-ground account of urban renewal and community success; a timely story to inform our response to the current crisis.
In a recent review, Metropolis Magazine called Gratz’ most recent book a “cogent argument for revisiting [Jacob’s] ideas and adapting them to a different time and, inevitably, a different New York.”
Applying Jacobs’ ideas to modern city life is precisely the goal of Jane’s Walk USA, an organization that facilitates a series of free walking tours which honor Jacobs’ legacy and put people in touch with their environment and each other. To learn more, or for tips on starting a walk in your community, visit http://janeswalkusa.wordpress.com/