Jane Jacobs is the patron saint of urbanism. Unless she is posthumously involved in a sex scandal or some kind of corruption involving the MTA, she will probably always be the best advocate for cities that the USA has ever known. It doesn’t hurt that she had an adorable potato face or that her antagonist was the much maligned Robert Moses.
So, to invoke Jane Jacobs is to invoke all that is good for cities. And Mike Joyce, a graphic designer with Stereotype Design, has taken advantage of Jane’s rep to set the record straight: he doesn’t want any more Marc Jacobs stores in the West Village. He’s taken to producing postcards and t-shirts with the phrase “More Jane Jacobs Less Marc Jacobs.” It’s pretty catchy. As Joyce mentions in an interview with Jeremiah’s Forgotten New York (whom we profiled here), the question Joyce gets most is “Who is Jane Jacobs?” By saying more of Jane and less of Marc, he’s not only saying that chain retail is destroying the city’s fabric, but the anti-intellectualism is as well.
Meanwhile, everyone, it seems, knows who Marc Jacobs is. And there will soon be a total of six Marc Jacobs in the West Village. Marc Jacobs’ stores are in fact taking over the spot of the beloved Biography Bookstore to make way for his leather bags and expensive frocks. It’s a literal displacement of literary culture by a consumerist one.
But the truth is that the problem isn’t Marc Jacobs and the answer isn’t just Jane Jacobs. It’s what Lloyd Alter of Treehugger (and who once blogged for us here) says:
The problem isn’t Marc Jacobs, and it isn’t just Greenwich Village, but all over the world; the same stores, selling the same stuff.
Diana Lind is the former executive director and editor in chief of Next City.