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Jane Jacobs Walks

Why are some neighborhoods special while others are, well, pleasant but lacking memorable qualities? This was a lifelong question worked on by a New York woman named Jane Jacobs who was active beginning in the 1950's. She had no formal training in planning or architecture, nor a college degree, but she did have a keen sense of what made a neighborhood livable. Her signature book, Death and Life of Great American Cities, became required reading for architects and city planners after its publication in 1961. See more about Jane Jacobs and her book.

A group called encourages residents to explore and observe their neighborhoods.


Jane Jacobs Walk, May 31, 2014

The walk

Observing Great Neighborhoods: The Simple Urbanology of Jane Jacobs

By Howard Wong

Famed urbanologist Jane Jacobs'’ birthday is in May, inspiring neighborhood walks around the world. North Beach has evolved into one of the most livable and fascinating neighborhoods in America — a vibrancy easily taken for granted. The Jane Jacobs Walk 2014 allowed folks to observe and appreciate North Beach's diversity, textures, character, uniqueness, history, architecture, streets, elements and people. While San Francisco’'s affordability and diversity are threatened, North Beach is a living classroom for neighborhood planning.

 Walkers at the Firemen statue

JJ Walkers meet at the Firemen statue in Washington Square Park.
Host Liz Vasile is in the center wearing a tan hat.

The announcement

The first Jane Jacobs walk in North Beach (as far as we know) will take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, 2014. It starts at the Firemen statue in Washington Square Park, near the corner of Columbus Ave and Filbert St.

Liz Vasile will lead the walk but she won't be doing all the talking. Join in and bring your own stories and observations. Feel free to come or leave at any point — see the walk route below. Following the walk, about 60–90 minutes, we will meet at Rogue Ales patio (corner of Union & Powell) for food, drink, and chat about what makes North Beach a livable neighborhood.

 Jane Jacobs Walk map 2014-05-31

Meet at the Start (green marker) at 11 a.m. Feel free to drop out or jump in at any point on the walk. Meet at Rogue Ales (red marker) starting at noon.

Walk listing on

More about Jane Jacobs

 Jane Jacobs

About Jane Jacobs

Hosting a Jane Jacobs Walk

Urban usage articles

Older, Smaller, Better — Measuring how the character of buildings and blocks influences urban vitality, a report from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Urban Renewal, No Bulldozer — San Francisco Repurposes Old for the Future New York Times, May 29, 2014.

Web site updated September 7, 2014;