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Critical Essay: The Death and Life of Great American Cities
PUP 363 History of Planning
Assignment Overview
In this assignment you are tasked with two objectives. First, you are to read and summarize the key points
and main arguments presented in the book The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs. Then
you are to critically analyze the arguments and discuss the validity of Jacobs’ criticism of urban planning at the
time it was written (1961) and how relevant her arguments are today, given any changes that may have taken
place in cities and in the urban planning profession since the book’s publication.
Completing the Essay
After you have completed reading the book, craft an essay that addresses the following:
–Summarize the key points and main arguments made by Jacobs in each of the four parts of her book.
Clearly demonstrate that you read the entire book and have a solid grasp of the content by highlighting
specific examples used by the author to illustrate her key points.* (Roughly 75% of your essay)
–Critique Jacobs’ arguments. Discuss how valid her criticisms of urban planning and US cities were in 1961
and how relevant her arguments are today. Clearly justify your critique. (Roughly 25% of your essay)
Your written essay should be roughly 6-8 single-spaced pages in length. Essays are due by 4:30 PM (the start
of class) on November 16th and should be submitted (as a Word or PDF document) via the link on Blackboard
found under the “Jane Jacobs Critical Essay” tab. NO late essays will be accepted.
All essays should reflect your own individual work. Any direct quotes from the Jacobs book or other outside
sources (if utilized) must be cited properly with page numbers using a consistent citation style throughout.
Optional outside sources should also be listed in a reference section at the end of the essay. All essays will be
submitted through SafeAssign (plagiarism checker) to ensure that proper citations are used. Essays should
showcase your comprehension of the book and its historic and contemporary relevance to urban planning.
Your essay should be thoroughly proofread for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors. Essays
containing excessive proofreading errors will not be accepted for credit.
*DO NOT copy your essay from convenient online summaries (such as WikiSummaries)! It will be very obvious
and will result in a score of 0 for this assignment.

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