Jacobs, Jane, 1916-2006

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Jane Jacobs (née Butzner) was born on May 4, 1916, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Butzner, a physician, and Bess Robison Butzner. After graduating from Scranton's Central High School, Jacobs briefly trained to become a stenographer before taking a position as a reporter with the Scranton Tribune. In 1938, she moved to New York City and attended Columbia University's School of General Studies for two years. In the years that followed, she held a number of writing and editing jobs. In 1944, she married Robert Hyde Jacobs, Jr., an architect, with whom she had three children: James Kedzie (1948), Edward Decker (1950), and Mary Hyde (1955).

In 1952, Jacobs became an associate editor at Architectural Forum magazine, where she was introduced to the topics of city planning and rebuilding. She wrote a book sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation that focused on American cities: The Death and Life of Great American Cities was published in 1961 and went on to become Jacobs's most well-known book. In addition to her writing, Jacobs was also an activist. She was arrested in 1968 after she disrupted a public meeting about the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a project she opposed.

Jacobs moved to Toronto with her family in 1969 in part due to her objection to the Vietnam War. She quickly became an influential figure in Toronto and soon after her arrival helped to stop plans for the construction of the Spadina Expressway. Jacobs became a Canadian citizen in 1974. She continued to write on topics including urban issues, Canadian cities and sovereignty, and economics. Jacobs was nominated to the Order of Canada in 1996 for her work on urban development. Her last book, Dark Age Ahead, was published in 2004. Jane Jacobs died on April 25, 2006, in Toronto.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Churchill, Henry S. (Henry Stern). Henry S. Churchill papers, 1929-1962. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Jacobs, Jane, 1916-2006. Letters, 1958-1962, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Jane Jacobs papers approximately 1860-2006 (bulk 1960-2002) Boston College. John J. Burns Library
referencedIn Macdonald, Dwight. Dwight Macdonald papers, 1865-1984 (bulk 1920-1978) Yale University Library
referencedIn Voices from the Food Revolution: People Who Changed The Way Americans Eat, An oral history project conducted by Judith Weinraub, 2009-2011 Fales Library & Special Collections
creatorOf David Gurin and Jane Jacobs correspondence 1963-2016, bulk 1963-2006 Boston College. John J. Burns Library
creatorOf Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. Douglas Putnam Haskell papers, 1866-1979 (bulk 1949-1964). Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. Douglas Putnam Haskell papers, Series I: Pending correspondence, 1949-1964. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Henry S. Churchill papers, 1929-1962 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Fitch, James Marston. James Marston Fitch papers, 1933-2000. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Jane Jacobs : vertical file. Centre canadien d'architecture, | Canadian Centre for Architecture | CCA
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Architectural forum. corporateBody
associatedWith Churchill, Henry S. (Henry Stern) person
associatedWith Fitch, James Marston. person
correspondedWith Gurin, David person
associatedWith Haskell, Douglas Putnam, 1899-1979. person
correspondedWith Jacobs, Jane person
associatedWith Macdonald, Dwight. person
associatedWith Sontag, Susan, 1933-2004. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Scranton PA US
Toronto 08 CA
Cities and towns
City planning
Economic history
Urban economics


Birth 1916-05-04

Death 2006-04-25






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