Jane Jacobs’s residence

Jane Jacobs’s residence

555 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014


When not socializing in the White Horse Tavern, Jane Jacobs used the living room of her family apartment at 555 Hudson Street to organize against Robert Moses’s plans to build an expressway onramp through the middle of Washington Square Park.


Jane Jacobs Battles Moses and Writes a Book


When the battle to save Washington Square Park reached its peak in 1958, Jacobs used print media to her advantage. She wrote about architecture in magazines and newspapers before authoring The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a book that revolutionized the field of urban planning. “Jane and I both despised Moses as an ignorant, petty tyrant who used federal funds to finance his insane projects and seduce politicians, a familiar story,” said Random House editor Jason Epstein, who commissioned the book. “He had been most destructive in poor neighborhoods whose residents were mostly passive.” Moses’s typical strategy was to bulldoze a site in the early morning and confront residents with a fait accompli when they woke up. Fortunately, Jacobs had already learned an important tactic from a neighborhood group that successfully blocked Moses’s attempt to expand a parking lot for the fancy Tavern on the Green restaurant. Mothers and small children arrived at midnight to block the bulldozers that came to raze the park an hour later. “This inspired the mothers of Greenwich Village to do the same,” Epstein said, when Moses’s bulldozers arrived at Washington Square Park to clear a path for a Fifth Avenue extension to Broome Street, his Waterloo. Jane organized these “Save the Square” protests from the living room of her family apartment at 555 Hudson Street, where she lived with her husband and three children.

From Chapter 8 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore