Bob Dylan and Jane Jacobs wrote a song together

wall with Jane Slogan
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ In Toronto, they paint the walls with Jacobsian grafitti

It’s Jane Jacobs’ centenary on May 4, and it is a big deal among urbanists everywhere and Torontonians in particular, as it was her adopted home. Although she died a decade ago, she is still being argued about, criticized by some and worshipped by others. Charles Morohn is one of the latter, and writes at Strong Towns:

I read her as an intellectual radical, someone akin to Charles Darwin or even a Leonardo da Vinci, a person who was far more worried about the thought process used to approach complex problems than any specific outcome. I found in her writing a true scientific mind, always observing, testing and learning from the world around her. The slogans subsequently adopted by the planning profession on mixed use, density and walkability are mere byproducts of this radical core, an oversimplification, if you will.

It turns out that she also was a bit of a song-writer; her son Jim Jacobs describes in the Globe and Mail how she wrote a protest song with Bob Dylan, during her first big battle against Robert Moses and the Lower Manhattan Expressway:

Actually, Jane and Bob Dylan wrote a song together. Jane needed a protest song for the fight against the Lower Manhattan Expressway in New York. A friend of ours, Harry Jackson, an artist, had a folk singer sleeping on his floor. He sent Dylan around to the house. Jane helped him, telling him how a protest song was structured and how it worked. I think it was the first protest song he ever wrote… Nobody recorded it. The song was Listen, Robert Moses…. It’s not the world’s greatest song. But it’s an interesting piece.

Listen Robert MosesGothamist/via

Tags: Urban Life | Urban Planning | Wayback Machine


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