In this chapter Jane Jacob points out the importance of neighborhoods and its role in a city. She states that “ultimately our failed city neighborhoods are due to failed localized self-government.”
Before I write about my ideas about Jacobs’s observation I want to express my thoughts about neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods are very essential to people’s lives. Usually communities are formed in neighborhoods thus residents will share the same experience in the quality of their life such as jobs, schools, businesses and etc. Also if a crime takes place people in that community will be affected by it.
In this chapter Jacobs believes that there are three types of neighborhoods which are important for self-government. City as a whole, street neighborhoods, districts around 10,000 people.
She argues that districts should be between streets and the city in order to have safer community while bringing communities together.
The ideal neighborhood that I have seen which also falls into Jacobs category is city of Houten in the Netherlands. The neighborhoods are built in the way that they are interconnected while they are separated from each other. The connection comes through bicycle paths and also pedestrian paths. This connection allows residents in different neighborhoods to interact more with each other thus leading to an active community.
In the United States I have only lived in Portland for a few years and I have seen a few neighborhoods that falls into Jacobs’s category such as Pearl District.
Unfortunately neighborhoods from where I came from looks very different from Ideal neighborhoods mentioned above. Usually comminutes does not exist in neighborhoods and every decision is made by the government. The result is that there are not many interactions between neighborhoods and residents. One of the examples that I experienced in my visit to Iran was that there was new signal placed at the entry of a highway just a block from my house. Because of the queue that was made due to the installation of that signal cars were taking a shortcut through my street. That just turned a quiet and clean street to a dirty, noisy and dangerous street. Since there is no community, every neighbor had to sign a letter asking for a change on that matter. Off course nothing changed and everything got worst. That’s when localized self-government is really needed to assure the safety and comfort of communities.
In chapter 7 Jacobs suggests conditions for city diversity that will lead to a lively city. She states that districts must serve more than one primary function so that people could use common facilities at different times. Second point, she mentioned that blocks should be short in order to increase social activities and interaction between people. Her third argument was about buildings and their ages. She stated that buildings should vary in their age in order to accommodate different people and business based on the affordability. Her last argument is that there should be a dense concentration of people in order to have a lively city.
I agree with her. Again a good example would be Iran. It’s been a trend for many years that areas with new buildings and fancy businesses should be located where reach people lives and in contrast the old buildings and business should be located where poor people lives. That’s the main reason there is a huge difference between the levels of people. When there is great amount of difference between people’s levels in a city it will lead to more crimes and unsafe community. Diversity plays an important role for communities to interact with each other and learn about different cultures and life styles in order to adopt a safe and great city.