Jane Jacobs’ classic — must-read — “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (New York: Random House, 1961) is commendable pandemic reading. Jacobs happened into city planning after becoming Associate Editor of Architectural Forum and determining that so-called experts were unknowledgeable about their field of expertise.
I mention the book because, during the pandemic, I have not swum laps, nor pursued other athletic activities, walking two hours instead.
Jacobs allows that, “A well-used city street is apt to be a safe street”:
“The safety of the street works best, most casually, and with least frequent taint of hostility or suspicion precisely where people are using and most enjoying the city streets voluntarily and are least conscious, normally, that they are policing,
“The basic requisite for such surveillance is a substantial quantity of stores and other public places sprinkled along the sidewalks of a district; enterprises and public spaces that are used by evening and night must be among them especially. Stores, bars and restaurants, as the chief examples, work in several different and complex ways to abet sidewalk safety.
“First, they give people — both residents and strangers — concrete reasons for using the sidewalks on which these enterprises face.
“Second, they draw people along the sidewalks past places which have no attraction to public use in themselves but which become traveled and peopled as routes to somewhere else...
“Third, storekeepers and other small businessmen are typically strong proponents of peace and order themselves; they hate broken windows and holdups; they hate having customers made nervous about safety. They are great street watchers and sidewalk guardians if present in sufficient numbers.
“Fourth, the activity generated by people on errands, or people aiming for food or drink, is itself an attraction to still other people.
“This last point, that the sight of people attracts other people, is something that city planners and city architectural designers seem to find incomprehensible. They operate on the premise that city people seek the sight of emptiness, obvious order and quiet. Nothing could be less true. People’s love of watching activity and other people is constantly evident in cities everywhere...”
I defer comment about the deplorable condition of Jackson sidewalks and the need for physical fitness. Policing streets on foot daily, I address the abundant litter. It must go.
There appear three primary sources:
1. People in pickup trucks are oblivious that objects left in pickup trucks beds blow away at speed. Please leave nothing in a bed unable to remain there when travelling 80 miles per hour, without a secure cover.
2. Teenagers think that drinking and driving, disposing of incriminating evidence by throwing it out the window, is permissible. It is prima facie proof of being too young to drink when one cannot recognize that, if unable to dispose of beer bottles, cans and packaging responsibly, one cannot handle alcohol, especially inside a moving vehicle. Parents and grandparents, please beseech progeny that, if unable to use a garbage container, they cannot drive the vehicle that you insure. Your insurance company will respond unfavorably to an intoxicated adolescent’s involvement in an accident or receiving a citation. If you are unable to appreciate your insurance agreement, your attorney can explain the black letter law.
3. Some people believe that it is okay to throw trash from moving vehicles. Whether one believes in evolution or not, trash has not evolved to the extent that it can reach an appropriate receptacle or dump on its own. Mother Earth lacks the carrying capacity to be exploited and receive endless amounts of waste. Please stop acting otherwise.
Jackson deserves pride of place. Successful cities are well-maintained. There should be ZERO TOLERANCE for littering.
Jay Wiener is a Northsider.