For some background information, “Jane’s Walk” is an event that is held in over 200 cities annually in honor of Jane Jacobs. Jane Jacobs is the author of the book, “The Life and Death of Great American Citizens”, a famous novel for its commentary on urban renewal, and its effects on city-dwellers. Jacobs was famous for protecting neighborhoods in New York City “from renewal”, and was the voice of a movement. One of her most famous fights was against Robert Moses, who wanted to deconstruct Greenwich Village. Without Jane Jacobs’ and her grassroots efforts, New York City would not be what it is today. As a woman in the 1950s Jane Jacobs received a lot of criticism after speaking her opinion on male dominated fields in urban planning. Jane Jacobs is not just a hero to many, but a feminist icon as well.
Jane Jacobs passed away at the age of 89 in April of 2006. In honor of her the event “Jane’s Walk” was created. The walks discuss ideology Jacobs’ started or identified with, and participants walk on foot observing local cities, and neighborhoods. Jane’s walk however are not the only events held in her honor. The cities of New York and Toronto both have a “Jane Jacobs Day”, and there are several exhibitions dedicated to her in several cities. There is also a Jane Jacobs Medal that is granted to individuals who, “have made a significant contribution to thinking about urban design”.
Jane Jacobs was an inspiration because she not only spoke her mind in a time where women weren’t suppose to defy, but she published it. She represented the voices of thousands of New Yorkers and helped protect their homes and neighborhoods by starting grassroots efforts. She also created a new mind set within the urban design community, one that considers the desires and needs of all the people involved or impacted.
I went to the Jane’s Walk in Venice Beach. Unfortunately, I got there half hour after the walk had started, so I didn’t walk with everyone from the event. However, my friend and I made sure to go to the locations that were apart of the event. The walk started at the LA Louvre, and walked down to the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Places like muscle beach,and the skate park were all apart of the walk.
I really enjoy Venice Beach, because from an urban design perspective, it seems so untouched. The boardwalk and its inhabitants have created their own Californian world. It seems like most places that wild and unique, would have more law enforcement, more government intervention. But Venice Beach runs wild! The art, performance, locals all brings color to the Beach that wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the people that live there. I think Venice Beach is a perfect example of what Jacobs’ believed in when it came to urban design. The future of a neighborhood should lay in the hands of the people who live there, not a few wealthier people who see the area as “promising.” Venice Beach is one of the few places in Southern California that hasn’t been “perfected” for a lack of better words, people seem to just roam free.