Vital Little Plans

The Short Works of Jane Jacobs

by Jane Jacobs

  • Published: 04 May 2017
  • Price: 16.99
  • Format: Hardback
  • ISBN: 9781780723129
  • Short Books territories:
    UK & C/Wealth
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Edited by Samuel Zipp & Nathan Storring and with a Preface by Will Self

From the INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED author of the modern classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities

 No one did more to change how we look at cities than Jane Jacobs, the visionary urbanist and economic thinker whose 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities started a global conversation that remains profoundly relevant more than half a century later.   

Vital Little Plans is an essential companion to Death and Life and Jacobs’ other books on urbanism, economics, politics, and ethics. It offers readers a unique survey of her entire career in 40 short pieces that have never been collected in a single volume, from charming and incisive urban vignettes from the 1930s to the raw materials of her two unfinished books of the 2000s.

Readers will find classics here, including Jacobs’ breakout article ‘Downtown Is for People’, as well as lesser-known gems like her speech at the inaugural Earth Day and a host of other rare or previously unavailable essays, articles, interviews and lectures. Some pieces shed light on the development of her most famous insights, while others explore topics rarely dissected in her major works, from globalization to feminism to universal health care. 

This book, published in Jacobs’s centenary year, enables contemporary readers, whether well versed in her ideas or new to her writing, to finally appreciate the full scope of her remarkable voice and vision. At a time when urban life is booming and people all over the world are moving to cities, the words of Jane Jacobs have never been more significant. 

Vital Little Plans weaves a lifetime of ideas from the most prominent urbanist of the twentieth century into a book that is indispensable to life in the twenty-first. 

““This trove of short pieces works beautifully…The editors’ introduction is a feast of details and insights. One learns not only about Jacobs and where she stood vis-a-vis this or that critique of her own work, but also about the contexts (cities, the natural world) within which her contributions played out – something that traditional economists did not do.” ”
Times Literary Supplement
““Vital Little Plans gathers an excellent range of Jacobs’s thinking for both new readers and those who haven’t picked her up since being assigned The Death and Life of Great American Cities in college. Her writing is about so much more than contempt of suburbs and expressways. These short essays and lectures present a startling breadth of ideas, and an unflagging advocacy not just for the built environment, but for the human struggles within it. It’s rare now for scholars of urban life to pursue the kind of meandering threads of interest that Jacobs permitted herself, and which are so essential for representing the intricately layered life of a city.” ”
LA Review of Books

About Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was a writer who for more than forty years championed innovative, community-based approaches to urban planning. Her 1961 treatise The Death and Life of Great American Cities became perhaps the most influential text about the inner workings and failings of cities, inspiring generations of planners and activists.