Yes, Let’s Have a ‘Jane’s Walk’

Reading the Digging Pitt blog recently, I want to second their call to have Pittsburgh (or any other Rust Belt city, for that matter) host a Jane’s Walk – a neighborhood walk in the spirit of urban thinker Jane Jacobs.

A number of other cities have done this and Pittsburgh – or Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, etc. – should all jump on the bandwagon.

Volunteer guides lead tours of various neighborhoods. From Digging Pitt, “Some tours focus on heritage sites, while others explore the nooks and crannies of the city. From great hangouts for kids to ethnic business and residential enclaves, the tours and their leaders are diverse like cities themselves.”



Filed under architecture, Art, Economic Development, Editorial, Good Ideas, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, sprawl, The Media

13 responses to “Yes, Let’s Have a ‘Jane’s Walk’

  1. Hi, this is John.

    I’m not an authority on this.

    The central site for info to co-ordinate walks is and the dates for 2010 walks are May, 1st and second.

    Aside from that, each walk is put together by local people– and several cities have several, each looking at a separate neighborhood.

    I would personaly like to host one with a few other people, partly cause I’m not from Pittsburgh and I’m pretty shy.

  2. Tibi

    There’s already something like this: I highly recommend it (not affiliated with them), I’ve visited a lot of places that otherwise wouldn’t. Plus, each early fall they organize a scavenger hunt in a neighborhood, usually centered around finding landmarks (and with some nice prizes in the end).

  3. While I’d endorse any opportunity to get together and walk, I think there’s something potentialy very important in really getting together and celebrating and studying places at ground level to see what is working or perhaps not working.

    The point I think is to open debate and discussion. If one had the money, time etc… one could create little youtube films of each walk and then have some type of online forum people to talk about ground level street issues like density, zoning, traffic control, block size etc…

    In a place like Pittsburgh it might be good to have a few walks which compare and contrast areas– say one walk on the South Side, and one looking at the damaging effects of breaking the street grid on the Lower Hill district or perhaps a historical walk through the North Side looking at it’s past as a highly successful independent city before it was “improved” urban planners.

  4. Great to hear you are interested putting together a Jane’s Walk or two in Pittsburgh.

    Please let us know how we can assist, as we are in the process of setting up our outreach and support for the 2010 walks (and rolls!) now.

    Feel free to contact me directly at: at anytime.

  5. Update re: Stephen Goldsmith’s email address for Jane’s Walks: please send messages to while we re-set our Jane’s Walk email addresses–sorry for any inconvenience.

  6. Seth

    I love this idea. Since a lot of us on the site are in Cleveland, any readers interested in coordinating one here?

  7. I’d go on a Cleveland Jane’s Walk. What do you think would be the best neighborhoods for that?

  8. Seth

    I think a lot of places would work. There are so many examples in Cleveland (and most older cities) of places where walkability is great and many others where it’s horrible. You could make a tour of either, depending on your intent. It seems like the organization does focus on tours led by individuals who live in the neighborhood. I think you could put together some interesting and unpredictable tours in Upper University Circle / Lower East Cleveland / Little Italy, Buckeye, Asiatown (my neighborhood), downtown, Ohio City, Tremont, Duck Island, Detroit Shoreway, Old Brooklyn or Brooklyn Centre and maybe even a Kamm’s Korner or a Westown.

  9. I have to admit to having never been to Cleveland partly because it doesn’t sound like a very “Jane Jacobs” type place and I like Jane don’t drive.

    If I had to pick one walk, I think choosing an area with a variety of positive and negative issues might be best. For example, a functional or semi funtional neighborhood divided by a major highway or a functional street grid cut off by a senseless megablock office park or even a poorly thought out park.

    Also from my general knowledge, the issue of minimal concentration and population density is a big issue like it is on Pittsburgh’s North Side and Hill District both of which have big troubles supporting a supermarket, shopping district or mass transit.(even though both once had thriving shopping areas)

    Remember, some of Death & Life’s chapter titles.

    The uses of sidewalks: safety
    The uses of sidewalks: contact
    The uses of neighborhood parks
    The uses of city neighborhoods
    The need for mixed primary uses
    The need for small blocks
    The need for aged buildings
    The need for concentration
    The curse of border vacuums
    Gradual money and cataclysmic money
    Erosion of cities or attrition of automobiles

    Sadly, I think in both Pittsburgh and Cleveland the best plan might be to walk the streets with a really old person with a memory of their neighborhoods before they were “improved” by government highways and politically organized mega projects.

  10. Russell

    … and an opportunity for Paulo Friere style community exploration and activism … ?


  11. Madison Trust for Historic Preservation started these with their first one on State St. which links the Capitol with the UW campus. They have proved very popular and are a force to get people to support preservation of buildings to keep our city looking unique. When this started a few years ago, I wrote about it and trashed a pub that had some great architecture but had let it all get run down. They were not happy with my comments but, within a year, they were rehabbing their building and getting mileage out of their Frank Lloyd Wright connection.

  12. Great News!

    No thanks to me cause I dropped the ball aside from promoting the idea on my blog, but there will be at least one Jane’s Walk each in Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

    Cleveland– Ohio City

    Time: 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
    Dates: Saturday May 1 , 2010

    Meeting Place: West Side Market Park (Tempus Pons Park) at the NW corner of Lorain and West 25th street.

    Host: Renato Pereira-Castillo

    Pittsburgh –Polish Hill

    Dates: Saturday May 1, 2010

    Begin and End at: Polish Hill Civic Association

    3060 Brereton St.

    Pittsburgh PA 15219

    Host: Terry Doloughty

    Contact info: 412-681-1950

    Host Organization: Polish Hill Civic Association

    It’s somewhat possible, I will do a walk in Bloomield since that’s sort of what I had promised.

    Follow for more updates on

    A post about this on Rust Wire would be very appreciated

  13. Pingback: UPDATE: Jane’s Walks Happening in Pittsburgh, Cleveland | Rust Wire

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