Thursday, January 17, 2008

Jacobs v. Moses v. Memphis

I've just finished listening to a podcast from the Architectural League of New York. It's from their 2006 forum, "Jane Jacobs vs. Robert Moses: How Stands the Debate Today".

Neither a bashing of Robert Moses nor deification of Jane Jacobs, there's a lot of relevance in it and the Jacobs/Moses dialectic to modern-day (and olden-day) Memphis.

For instance this quote from panelist Richard Kahan:
I have always viewed development in New York as a balance or imbalance of 3 basic forces: the public sector, the private sector and and the civic sector, within which I include neighborhood organizations, groups like the Municipal Arts Society, regional planning association, environmental groups, etc. And certainly Jane Jacobs was among the first, if not the first, to be organizing those kinds of forces. So the battle was no longer just about the public sector and the private sector.

In Memphis' case it appears that the public sector has rarely been the primary force (great exceptions: the laying out of Memphis with the Promenade and the 4 Squares; the creation of the Parkways, Overton Park and Riverside Park; possibly the reimagining of the LeMoyne Gardens and Dixie Courts housing projects). Mainly it's been a rubber stamp for the designs of the private sector and provider of commodity infrastructure for those designs.

And in the civic sector there's been great work, stretching from the fight to keep Interstate 40 out of Overton Park, through the battle for the Bluff Walk, and now to save Libertyland and to preserve the Riverfront. But it doesn't appear, yet, that we have a large and sustained civic movement that spans the time between the major struggles and the space between all our neighborhoods.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home