Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered


John Thomson


Bliss Pictures Inc Sharon Bliss


  • Release Date 2008
  • Running Time 52 minutes
  • Closed Captions Yes
  • Availability Canada, USA

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Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs ReconsideredUrban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered

Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered is a fascinating portrait of Jane Jacobs, a critical thinker who understood the need for citizens to become involved in shaping public policy that shapes the cities in which they live.

This salute to the late Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, examines how her legacy has affected urban planning in three North American cities: New York, Toronto and Vancouver. Jacobs challenged the accepted norms of urban design -in New York in the early 1960s and later in Toronto from 1968 until her death there in 2006.

In her fight for livable cities with strong communities and neighbourhoods, she advocated the then-radical idea of giving residents a voice at City Hall through asking them for input into plans that affect their neighbourhood. This film follows recent debate between citizens, developers and the municipal officials caught between in two cities where Jacobs had a profound influence -Brooklyn, New York, with the Atlantic Yards project, and Toronto, Ontario, with the Queen Street Triangle development.

Clips of interviews with Jacobs and anecdotes from her son Ned are combined with comments from Ron Shiffman, Urbanist at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Margaret Zeidler, a community activist in Toronto, and Larry Beasley, former Vancouver city planner. Vancouver architecture critic Trevor Boddy questions the value pursuing one aspect of Jacobs' philosophy to an extreme and muses whether her ideas can be transplanted into 21st century urban planning without further reflection. Urban Goddess: Jane Jacobs Reconsidered is a fascinating portrait of a critical thinker who understood the need for citizens to become involved in shaping public policy that shapes the cities in which they live. 

Discussion guide for grades 10 to 12 available: Urban_Goddess_discussion_guide.pdf

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