Thursday, 20 October 2011

Jane Jacobs, Jeanne and Sesame Street

One of the pleasures of having Jeanne here a lot, is that I've been revisiting scenes (literally) of our kids' childhood. Today it was great version of Sunny Day. the Sesame Street theme song that is, I was delighted to discover, an implicit tribute to Jane Jacobs, the urban planner.

Jeanne was charmed by the video of this archetypal "eyes on the street," densely populated neighborhood. Just as Jacobs advocated, Sesame Street sidewalks are places to play, there's corner store and people of different backgrounds look out for one another. It is, in fact, very much like the East Village neighborhod that inspired Jane Jacobs observations on what works in cities.

Walking around our neighborhood with Jeanne, I've been reminded of how wonderful urban life can be. People stop to talk to her, I've been amazed at the help I've been offered with the stroller from people of all ages, and she is delighted by what Jacobs called "the urban dance," the steady stream of people that invigorate both our residential street and the nearby shopping streets.

My observations are not original: urban planning articles have been written on the similarities. As one says:

"To date, Sesame Street is perhaps the most concrete and accessible model of a U.S. urban community." Forty-two years after the show began in the fall of 1969, it ought to be required watching for anybody interested in cities and urban planning.

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