Citizen Jane: Battle for the City
Sponsored by M&T Bank
Directed by Matt Tyrnauer, 2017, United States, Not Rated , 93 min.
Citizen Jane chronicles the life and work of Jane Jacobs, author of the influential 1961 book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” and feisty urban activist. In the middle of the last century a titanic battle for how to shape the cities of the future was developing. Bureaucratic “top down” approaches to city planning were clashing dramatically with grassroots “bottom up” approaches. In New York, Jacobs—a journalist with provincial origins, no formal training in city planning and scarce institutional authority—led community opposition to the sweeping plans of “Master Builder” Robert Moses, the upper class, high prince of government and urban theory fully ensconced in New York’s halls of power and privilege. At stake was whether the city’s historic neighborhoods, including Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy and TriBeCa, would stay intact or be torn apart by expressways and urban-renewal projects. The remarkable outcome is an inspiring lesson in the power of people to shape their environment, offering insights into how to face tough problems that are more timely than ever today.