Jane Jacobs was born on May 4, 1916. Forty-five years later, she published The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which she wrote between 1958 and 1961, and which stands today of the most influential books on urbanism ever written. The Skyscraper Museum celebrates Jacobs’s birthday and the beginning of her centennial year with a talk by Prof. Peter Laurence on his new book, Becoming Jane Jacobs, an intellectual biography that focuses on Jacobs’s early life and writing career leading up to her great book.
In praise of Laurence’s work, urban historian Robert Fishman observes: “Jane Jacobs taught the world to perceive the city with new eyes, but she first had to teach herself to see. In this superbly researched and wonderfully original book, Peter L. Laurence for the first time reveals the depth and complexity of Jacobs’s self-education…. This book is both a worthy tribute to Jacobs’s genius and a brilliant exposition of the broader context of designs and ideas that made her work possible.”
Peter L. Laurence is director of graduate studies in architecture and associate professor of architectural history, theory, and design at Clemson University School of Architecture.