Jane Jacobs

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Jane Jacobs, OC, O.Ont (May 4, 1916 – April 25, 2006) was an American-born Canadian writer and activist with primary interest in communities and urban planning and decay. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States. The book has been credited with reaching beyond planning issues to influence the spirit of the times.

Along with her well-known printed works, Jacobs is equally well-known for organizing grassroots efforts to block urban-renewal projects that would have destroyed local neighborhoods. She was instrumental in the eventual cancellation of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, and after moving to Canada in 1968, equally influential in canceling the Spadina Expressway and the associated network of highways under construction.

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American years

Jane Butzner was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the daughter of a doctor and a former teacher and nurse, who were Protestant in a Catholic town—adherents of a minority religion. After graduating from Scranton's Central High School, she took an unpaid position as the assistant to the women’s page editor at the Scranton Tribune. A year later, in the middle of the Great Depression, she left Scranton for New York City.

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