From Jacobs to the Just City: A foundation for challenging the green planning orthodoxy

James J.T. Connolly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch

32 Citations (Scopus)


© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Now that Jane Jacobs' ideas are seen as urban planning orthodoxy, it is unclear how her institutional goal of progressive change for the field will carry forward. In the 1960s, Jacobs created the conditions for institutional change by offering a thorough critique of the “Radiant Garden City Beautiful” orthodoxy of urban planning and presenting a solution for the problems that she saw with this approach. She argued that the top-down, design-oriented planning of her time hurt the lives of individual residents and diminished society as a whole. Her solution was a new way of seeing the city: as a functional and efficient social system. Since the 1990s, a global planning orthodoxy – of which Jacobs' ideas are part – developed around the “Smart Sustainable Resilient City.” This orthodoxy has been subject to critique, but Susan Fainstein's Just City theory offers tools for comprehensively challenging the approach and a solution for addressing the problems. In order to demonstrate the need for institutional change within the Smart Sustainable Resilient City orthodoxy, I use the Just City theoretical perspective to interpret the results of an analysis of green gentrification in New York City between 1990 and 2014. I argue that the over-valuation of Jacobsian diversity within the current urban planning orthodoxy generates unjust outcomes. The just green city, then, requires de-emphasizing Jacobs' intellectual project in favor of her far more important institutional project.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-70
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Jane Jacobs
  • Just City
  • New York City
  • Proportionate universalism
  • Urban greening


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