Downtown’s Future

Regarding Santa Barbara’s downtown future, this excerpt is from a New York Times review of Jane Jacobs in 1961.

“Mrs. Jacobs’s view is that people like to live, not just be, in such lively neighborhoods. Youngsters and elders alike need such surroundings. But she scoffs at our understanding of these requirements; for we continue to put up civic centers, low-density residential areas and housing ‘projects’ segregated by income. All these developments, she complains, combine to produce boring homogeneous cores which generate traffic for limited periods and then lapse afterward into dead or dangerous districts. Worse still, the new buildings with high rents squeeze out the marginal activities, the small-business man just getting a start, the colorful shop with strange and exotic wares, the little restaurants and bars, almost everything deviant, bohemian, intellectual or bizarre — in other words, all that the author believes lends spice, charm and vigor to an area.

“To brighten neighborhoods, ‘unslum’ slums and reweave housing projects into the fabric of the city, Mrs. Jacobs proposes that we do most of the things urban experts tell us not to do: attract mixed activities which will generate active cross-use of land; cut the length of blocks; mingle buildings of varying size, type and condition; and encourage dense concentrations of people. Some of the most intriguing parts of this work involve the ingenuity with which she applies her ideas for enlivening districts such as Wall Street or Central Park after dark. Greenwich Village, where the author lives, is her model par excellence.”

This seems so relevant to SB today!

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