On May 3, Fausto Commercial hosted the first annual Jane’s Walk in Miami.  Jane’s Walk is a global movement of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by Jane Jacobs. The walks get people to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities, and discuss the urbanism principals first expounded by Jane Jacobs.

In honor of that event, Fausto Commercial would like to share some details about the inspiring woman, and some of her principals.

Jane Jacobs was born in 1916 and died in 2006. While she was not a professional planner, designer or architect, she was an advocate for strong, viable urban places. She was also a strong critic of suburban development and believed that planners and decision makers who were responsible for urban redevelopment were wrong in their approaches to such issues. Jacobs was a writer and many of her ideas and observations were based on her experiences in New York City and captured in her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Four premises for Successful Neighborhoods:

  1. Varied Building Ages and Condition

The district must mingle buildings that vary in age and condition, including a good proportion of old ones.  “New ideas often need old buildings.” Older buildings, because of their depreciated expense, are often cheaper and permit for more variety of uses. These older and/or smaller spaces act as incubator spaces for new concepts. Varied building ages also permit for a greater variety of income levels, which again leads to more dynamic idea-generating neighborhoods. Variety of uses creates vibrant, more interesting, wholesome neighborhoods.

  1. Density

The district must have a sufficiently dense concentration of people.There exists a correlation between density and diversity. More density leads to more social, cultural, and economic interactions, added layers of vitality to a neighborhood.

  1. Mixed Uses

On successful city streets, people must appear at different times.  For a street to thrive there must be a intricate mingling of uses. When offices exist alongside residences, shops, and public parks, a neighborhood is active throughout the day and night. This ongoing activity creates safer streets, offers opportunities for businesses to take hold, and provides residents with necessary services.  Similarly, Jacobs discussed the three primary roles that sidewalks played in neighborhoods: safety, contact, and the assimilation of children. Jane believed that people on the street walking, talking, playing, sitting, watching and working all made for a viable and safe street.

  1. Frequent Streets

Most blocks must be short; that is, streets and opportunities to turn corners must be frequent.  This creates more walkable options for commerce and for encountering neighbors, contributing to the social and economic life of a neighborhood.  Long blocks are isolating, and so lead to stagnation and boredom.