Jane Jacobs and History of New York City

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New York City is a city known for its billboards, buildings, parks, neighborhoods and bridges. Since its days under the British colony New York has expanded in more ways than one thanks to certain people but, it also has lost it’s feel thanks to those same people. Robert Moses would be an example of one of those people, he turned New York into a mass transit city. In some ways New York needed to become a mass transit city but in other ways New York did not. Thanks to an activist named Jane Jacobs New York was saved to a certain extent from Moses plans to create a divide within the city. Even though the expansion of New York City was a good thing to a certain extent, it ended up affecting the city in a negative way.

Since the early 1920’s Robert Moses has expanded New York City in more ways than one. Moses believed that what kind of city would New York be without traffic or automobiles. It’s funny to me that, for a man who never drove a day in his life he would think about traffic and the automobile while creating plans to expand New York City.

Even though Moses plans for New York City sound interesting there came a price with them and that price would negatively affect New York City citizens. Moses wanted to tear down and separate communities and neighborhoods one by one just to expand the city for the automobiles sake. Which meant that the citizens of New York would have to relocate to different parts of the city, which sounds devastating because almost all the citizens who had to relocate lived in the same place and knew the people they lived around their entire life.

Moses had planned to destroy thousands of historical structures and neighborhoods around the city which now at days makes New York unique and one of a kind. Moses honestly did not care what would happen to the people, historical structures or neighborhoods around the city all he wanted was just to build a city for the automobile even though most people in New York now at days barely even drive. Moses ended up ruining the city’s close knit feel to a certain extent until an activist Jane Jacobs came along and tried to stop him from ruining New York City in its entirety.

Jane Jacobs an activist and journalist disagreed with Moses and challenged his ideas about turning New York City into a city for the automobile. Unlike Moses, Jacobs believed that New York City should stay a city of people with tight knit neighborhoods, close communities, people enjoying each other’s company outside on the stoops which Moses would completely disapprove of.

Jacobs believed in a city that was a city of vibrancy, people, and interaction unlike Moses who believed in separating the city any way he could just to building a city for the automobile. Moses was challenged by Jacobs and she won because people and different communities who wouldn’t normally interact with each other came out to help her protest against Moses heinous plans to tear down neighborhoods and communities just to build expressways, tunnels, and bridges.

People around the city resonated with her ideas because her idea was to keep New York City close knit and for the people unlike Moses who believed in the automobile and could care less about the people of New York and what his ideas would do to them. Before Moses came along and destroyed a good portion or a couple of portions of the city, New York was a city of people and close knit communities everyone knew each other, everyone lived near each other in close quarters and that was what made New York so unique, so thanks to Jane Jacobs and her activism New York wouldn’t have stayed somewhat like the version previous to Moses influence without her help.

In conclusion Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs both influenced New York City’s expansion.


  1. Graham, Vince. YouTube. February 13, 2012. Accessed February 10, 2019. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AUeuQT6t7kg&t=215s.
  2. Jacobs, Jane. “The Uses of Sidewalk Contacts.”, 55-73. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Vintage Digital, 1961.

Cite this paper

Jane Jacobs and History of New York City. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/jane-jacobs-and-history-of-new-york-city/

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