Why Jane Jacobs is a Feminist icon

There are so many influential women who overcame obstacle after obstacle to help break through glass ceilings everywhere.  Her Campus Emerson has decided to spotlight some of the many influential women who have since passed away. Please take a moment to learn about the incredible women who have inspired our writers!

Jane Jacobs’s journalistic integrity and activism changed gentrification in America. Her activism in the preservation of New York City’s arguably greatest landmarks isn’t talked about enough. Jacobs began working for her local newspaper right after high school before becoming a student at Columbia University. Let’s look back on some of Jacob’s most iconic moments.

The rally for Washington Square Park

It’s hard to believe that the beloved public park was once at risk of being completely demolished. As New York City was rapidly expanding in the late 1950s, there was a demand for more transportation accessibility like additional space for highways and streets. There was a plan in place to throw a highway right into the middle of the park where so many local artists, NYU students and citizens of the Village spent so much of their time. Jacobs was living in Greenwich Village at the time. Alongside other women activists-- Eleanor Roosevelt and Margaret Mead, Jacobs rallied for the park’s preservation. She formed public protests and sent letters of opposition to the mayor. Her advocacy helped create the “Committee to Save Washington Square Park.” She ultimately saved the park from unwanted traffic in its entirety.

Fought to preserve the legendary Penn Station

If you’ve ever had to take a train from Penn Station, you’ve probably noted that it’s lacking in when compared to the nearby Grand Central Station. Believe it or not, Pennsylvania Station’s architectural beauty used to rival the impressiveness of Grand Central’s.  Jacobs protested outside of the station in an effort to preserve it in 1963. Sadly, the original Penn station was still torn down in 1963 to make room for the Madison Square Garden concert venue.

Published her first book

Her first book, “The Death and Life of the Great American Cities” was published in 1961. It criticized the country's current city planning and Urbanisation tactics. The books goes into detail about how our cities became the way they are today and why this shouldn’t be ideal. She doesn’t sugarcoat her opinions or hold back in explaining the consequences that will come from modern architecture.