Jane Jacobs had no formal training as an urban planner, she was just a brilliant lady that had important ideas, ideas that mattered and ideas that have shaped cities all over the world. She wrote “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” which has long been cited as one of the most influential books in the history of urban planning. She had strong opinions and was a bit hard to argue with, but she was a wonderful woman, she was also my great aunt. My mom was very proud of her aunt’s accomplishments. In an effort to lift my mother’s spirits during her battle with pancreatic cancer, I decided to join the JJ100 project. People all over the world were organizing events to celebrate what would have been Jane Jacob’s 100th birthday.
My mom knew I was planning the event and I know she was so pleased. Sadly, she died only one day before the ten year anniversary of Jane Jacob’s death and was laid to rest near her. I think my mom waited until spring to go, because she loved that time of year so much and wanted to see it one more time. She loved the flowers. She also loved anything to do with Jane Jacobs, like an opera, or an article about how cities use a Jane Jacobs test to determine if they are meeting her standards.
My neighborhood, although technically located in the city of Denver would not meet those standards. I live in an area called Stapleton, it used to be the site of the old airport, in fact we live across the street from the old control tower which they are turning into a restaurant called Punch Bowl Social, which is the kind of joint where you can get fancy chicken and waffles with an artisanal cocktail then play antique arcade games. It’s a lark. The houses are pretty big around Stapleton but the yards are small and you are very close to your neighbors, which I don’t mind.
There are lots of plans for the continued development of Stapleton as the population of Denver grows. This town is blowin’ up y’all. Anyway, I contacted this organization that does walks around the city, including Jane’s Walks and we partnererd up with the Denver Public Library and our local MCA (Master Community Association). We met at the library and then we took a stroll around the neighborhood while discussing the design and the pros and cons. It was pretty hot and one of the cons is there isn’t much shade to be had due to the lack of tall trees. People complain about it, but at one time other neighborhoods in Denver were new, too. Houses that people didn’t approve of for being too modern and of course, tiny trees.
After our walk we drank lemonade, and had some delightful cookies shaped in the design of her signature eyeglasses. I’m so glad we had such a lovely morning and brought people together. Even though our neighborhood is named after a Ku Klux Klan grand dragon or some shit, it’s still a nice place to live! So move to Denver, the natives will tell you not to, but that’s because they want all this niceness for themselves, but I could use some of my old chums! You know who you are. Now, go google Jane Jacobs.
And here’s my favorite pic, the Red Rasta all tuckered out courtesy of Dawn from Walk2Connect.