Jane Jacobs, husband and son in front of their home at 555 Hudson Street. Photo from Becoming Jane Jacobs
Here at Untapped Cities, the legacy of Jane Jacobs impacts our daily life – what we write, how we see the streets, how we hope our city will become. We were part of the small group that participated in the Rockefeller Foundation conference, Jane Jacobs Revisited at the Bellagio Center in Italy in in 2012. We’ve written about the impact of Robert Moses, often pitted as Jacobs’ nemesis, and we recently attended the premiere of the rock musical BLDZR about the two. We also took in a preview of the opera about Moses last fall.
On her 100th birthday, we look at the apartments Jane Jacobs herself lived in while she was a resident of New York City
1. Orange Street, Brooklyn Heights: 1934-35
When Jane Jacobs first moved to New York City from eastern Pennsylvania, she lived in Brooklyn Heights on Orange Street (one of Brooklyn’s Fruit Streets) with her sister Betty, sharing the top apartment of a six-floor walkup. Jacobs’ sister worked in the home furnishings division of the department store Abraham & Straus, which was founded in Brooklyn. The store complex still exists, later turned into a Macy’s, which became a partner of A&S in the late 1800s.
Jane Jacobs herself talks about this apartment in a 2001 interview, published in the book Jane Jacobs: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. She notes that the walkup house, located near the St. George Hotel, “is not there anymore. That the neighborhood was nice and they lived there “before the highways went in there.” In fact, the house on Orange Street was destroyed in the Cadman Plaza renewal project, as reported in the book Becoming Jane Jacobs.