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Jane Jacobs’s First City: Learning from Scranton, Pennsylvania
by Glenna Lang
A thorough investigation of how Jane Jacobs’s ideas about the life and economy of great cities grew from her home city, Scranton Jane Jacobs’s First City vividly reveals how this influential thinker and writer’s classic works germinated in the once vibrant, mid-size city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Jane spent her initial eighteen years. In the 1920s and 1930s, Scranton was a place of enormous diversity and opportunity. Small businesses of all kinds abounded and flourished, quality public education was available to and supported by all, and even recent immigrants could save enough to buy a house. Opposing political parties joined forces to tackle problems, and citizens worked together for the public good. Through interviews with contemporary Scrantonians and research of historic newspapers, city directories, and vital records, author Glenna Lang has uncovered Scranton as young Jane experienced it and shows us the lasting impact of her growing up in this thriving and accessible environment. Readers can follow the development of Jane’s acute observational abilities from childhood through her passion in early adulthood to understand and write about what she saw. Reflecting Jane’s belief in trusting one’s own direct observation above all, this volume has been richly illustrated with historic and modern color images that help bring alive a lost Scranton. The book demonstrates why, at the end of Jacobs’s life, her thoughts and conversations increasingly returned to Scranton and the potential for cohesion and inclusiveness in all cities.