As urban historian Sandy Zipp and myself compiled Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs, and immersed ourselves in the discourse around this great urban thinker, one thing became clear: Everyone has their own Jane Jacobs.
Whether one identifies with the political left or right—as a progressive, liberal, conservative or libertarian—many people find something to like in her work, and dismiss whatever doesn’t fit with their worldview. Yet Jacobs herself went to great lengths to distance herself from any established political school of thought. So what did she really say? What are those inconvenient arguments that fans on the left and the right like to ignore? How does it all add up?