Jane Jacobs, known for her influential way of looking at cities, is the first recipient of the President's Medal
(May 11, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.–Since 1995, legendary author and urban theorist Jane Jacobs has invited Hobart and William Smith Colleges students taking the Two Cities: New York and Toronto course to visit with her at home in Toronto. The Saturday morning visits to the porch of the author, whose works are required reading for the course, always include long chats concerning what the students have learned about Toronto and New York City, which they have visited earlier.
So strong has this relationship become that, earlier this year, course instructors Pat McGuire, professor of economics, and sociology Professor Jim Spates recommended that Jacobs become the Colleges' first President's Medal recipient. The idea met with resounding approval. On April 21, students and professors, joined in Toronto by HWS President Mark D. Gearan and Trustees Tom Bozzuto, Todd Patterson and Tom Poole, so honored Jacobs.
The President's Medal is presented by HWS to individuals for outstanding service to the community, the country and their profession, or for leadership in an academic discipline.
In her books, Jacobs has a reputation for attacking urban planners, claiming they destroy diverse older neighborhoods with expressways and housing projects. Her most influential work was “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” (1961). She has served on the New York Community Planning Board and has been active in trying to save communities such as Greenwich Village.
In 1968, Jacobs moved to Toronto, where her architect-husband, Robert Hyde Jacobs Jr., had accepted a position.
Spates has nothing but good things to say about the HWS-Jacobs connection. “The students come away from the experience always delighted, not only because they have met a world-famous author who has changed how the world thinks about cities, but because of Jane's enthusiasm–for the discussion and for them, whom she sees as the hope of the future,” he says.
Jacobs had an article published in the May 16 New York Times. Registration is required to view the article.