Category Archives: Jane’s Walk

Walk this Way: Jane’s Walk Phoenix is profiled in Sunset

What started with a Twitter conversation with a somewhat incredulous magazine editor (you mean people actually WALK in Phoenix?!?) almost six months ago has finally become a reality. The current (January 2010) issues of Sunset magazine includes a feature on a Jane’s Walk Phoenix. The article covers why I brought the walk to Phoenix as well as some of the encouraging developments in out downtown core. It also mentions Artlink Phoenix‘s First Friday Art Walk, the Morin House, Modified Arts; features a photograph of cycling ‘bodega’ HoodRide in Roosevelt Row; and highlights comments from my friends (and walk participants)  Catrina Knoebl and Jeremy Mudd.

Special thanks go to editor-at-large Allison Arieff for writing the great article, and photographer David Fenton for the amazing photographs. I would also like to thank all of those who participated in the Jane’s Walk event in May 2009 as well as those who came out for the photo shoot in September; the event and the article would not have been a success without you. Plans are already under way for Jane’s Walk 2010, with an expanded slate of events, including a ‘Jane’s Ride.’

You can check out some scanned pages of the article below, but I strongly suggest you make a trip down to the local magazine rack and pick up a copy for yourself. Sunset is a great publication deserving of your support. Besides, in addition to the feature on Jane’s Walk, this month’s issue has a lot of cool content, including a short profile of Helen and Jan of Sweet Republic ice cream.

This article has been cross-posted on my personal website,

Walking With Jane

Nick, from Hoozdo recently posted the following piece on The Grid:

Walking With Jane

Saturday May 2 saw Jane’s Walk come to Phoenix. No, this wasn’t a charity fundraiser, but a simple Saturday-morning stroll along a pre-determined route through the heart of downtown Phoenix.

Jane is (was) Jane Jacobs, an American-born Canadian urbanist, writer and activist, best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States that led to the vast unnatural sprawl and isolation that plagues our cities today.

Jane Jacobs Equally well known for her grass-roots organizing and interventions into poorly thought out urban renewal projects that threatened to destroy neighborhoods, her great strength was not simply critiqueing urban sprawl and blinkered urban planning, but offering solutions and proposing radically new principles for rebuilding American cities.

Jane’s Walk is a series of neighbourhood walking tours that helps put people in touch with their environment and with each other, by bridging social and geographic gaps and creating a space for cities to discover themselves. (

Jane’s Walk Phoenix joined Anchorage, Boston, Cambridge, Dayton (Ohio), Jackson (Mississippi), Moscow (Idaho), New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Spanish Harlem (New York City), Starkville (Mississippi) and St. Louis on the 2009 list. It drew a healthy and mixed crowd. Organizer Yuri Artibise smartly selected a few locations along the way to stop and talk about related issues or the location’s history, which allowed laggers to catch up.

Mainly, though, the issues, histories and anecdotes flowed naturally through the group’s social interaction, as it snaked its way through downtown. This was no ‘tour’ but rather a series of ambulatory conversations intersecting at the point where people and city merge.

Jane's Walk Phoenix 2009 descends on Roosevelt Historic Park
Jane’s Walk Phoenix 2009 descends on Roosevelt Historic Park

Differing opinions, different perspectives. Frustrations, experiences, hopes. Personal observations; who used to live here; where the best coffee can be had. It was also a great reminder of how much fun an ad-hoc community can be, and how easily and quickly one can be created.

And having worked in the heart of downtown for 6 years, exploring it freely, it was personally pleasing – and suprising – to find new interesting places. This city continues to reveal itself, repaying
but a minimal investment: a little shoe leather. Thanks, Jane – see you next year!

Jane’s Walk 2009 (all cities)

Jane’s Walk 2009 Phoenix – I

Jane’s Walk 2009 Phoenix – II

Thanks Nick, your review captured the essence of what i was trying to achieve in planning the walk.  not only celebrating the life and work of Jane Jacobs and the reemergence of downtown Phoenix, but creating a community and finding the hidden treasures that the city has to offer. I’m glad you had a good time.  Hopefully our paths will cross before next year’s walk(s).

Stay tuned to Hoozdo and The Grid who will be revisiting Jane periodically throughout the year.

Making Phoenix a more walkable community

I talked with Tony from Light Rail Blogger earlier this week.  Here the result.  Thanks Tony!

Making Phoenix a more walkable community

Posted on 01. May, 2009 by Tony in News

People in Phoenix are relishing the cooler spring weather this morning, especially since the seemingly relentless summer highs are right around the corner.

Those sometimes brutal temperatures in the Valley of the Sun, which some days hover around the 115 degree mark, might be the one big reason few people use their own two feet to get around town.  Yuri Artibise is hoping to change that.

Yuri Artibese talks about his efforts to create a walkable community in Phoenix

Yuri Artibise talks about his efforts to create a walkable community in Phoenix

“Look at New York City,” says Artibise.  “They have extremely cold weather.”  Even in freezing temperatures, people still manage to make Manhattan a walkable community.

Artibise is hoping to change minds and attitudes, especially now that the Phoenix light rail is up and running and helping people get places.  Artibise and several others around the country are organizing a nationwide event called Jane’s Walk.

According to the Jane’s Walk website, the event is a series of free neighborhood walking tours given by locals who care passionately about where they live, work and play.  Jacobs, who died in 2006, is an icon to urbanists around the world.

Artibise says here in Phoenix, the event is more than just changing attitudes about walking in really warm weather.  Artibise is hoping to lay the ground work for a grass roots movement to make Phoenix a walkable urban city.

Sitting at a table at the Fair Trade Cafe on Central Avenue this week (Roosevelt and Central light rail stop), Artibise tells me the event is like a giant house party.  There have been 50 or so RSVP’s but he has reason to believe more will show up.

Artibise invited people who are knowledgeable about the Downtown Phoenix community to share their stories about old buildings, new buildings, and parks that few people seem to use.  If more people are familiar with where they live, then they will care more about the future and direction of Phoenix.

“I’m hoping to act as this glue to bring all this together,” says Artibise.  “We have the power to shape how downtown looks.”

The walk starts Saturday at 9 a.m. at Roosevelt Park and should last about two hours.  You can sign up for the walk here or just show up.  Make sure to bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes and water.  The tour is about 2 miles long.

Artibise hopes people will hang around when the walk ends and support local business by grabbing a coffee, some breakfast, or maybe something at the Downtown Farmers Market.

There’s a link to a New York Times obit about Jane Jacobs here.  Jane Jacobs is best known for her book the Death and Life of Great American Cities.  A Wikipedia entry for her book can be found here.

Jane’s Walk Phoenix is TOMORROW!

Are you getting excited?!? I am!

I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow at Portland Park:

Remember that the walk starts promptly at 9 am, so we ask that you aim to arrive by 8:45 to meet one another, grad a coffee, and get any last minute updates.

The weather looks like it’s going to cooperate, with a forecast temperature hovering around 78 degrees during the walk.  Nevertheless, be sure to bring lots of water and a hat!

Also remember to wear comfortable shoes as we’ll be covering a lot of ground (approx 2 miles) and be on our feet for 2 hours.

Are you getting excited?

Jane’s Walk Phoenix is two weeks away!

I look forward to seeing you all on May 2, 2009 at Portland Park:

Remember that the walk starts promptly at 9 am, so we ask that you aim to arrive by 8:30 to meet one another, grad a coffee, and get any last minute updates.

Phoenix adaptive use opportunities, successes & losses

Here is a great slideshow by azpreservationist highlighting the good, bad and downright ugly stories of adaptive reuse in downtown Phoenix.   Some of these we’ll be able to see in person during Jane’s Walk, others I encourage you to check out on your own (although many will appear in Jane’s Walk Phoenix 2010 and beyond!)

via Downtown Voices Coalition

Sites to see: Gold Spot


Built in 1925 and listed on the National Register  of Historic Places, the building was one of the first shopping centers in Phoenix. Its redevelopment was nominated under the Historic Preservation category for the 2004 Environmental Excellence Awards. For more than 20 years, the center was vacant until Desert Viking Builders Inc. bought the property and began redevelopment with an eye toward preservation.  The masonry was restored to its original condition and the store from was reconstructed the store front based on historic articles and a single old photo. Matches also were found for original roof trusses, and a custom glass storefront was designed to include a new recessed corner entry based on the photograph.

While the larger corner space remains vacant (although has been known to host an occassional First Friday art exibbit), the adjacenet space is home to  Calabria Italian Grocery & Deli, which offers a deli counter with made-to-order sandwiches and a few pasta dishes and salads.  The deli is run by a sister and brotherm Maria and Carlo, who learned the ins and outs from their parents, Domenic and Teresa Capogreco who operated an authentic Italian grocery store in Boston where they settled after emigrating from Calabria, Italy.

Jane’s Listening: What are your thoughts on downtown Phoenix?

As mentioned previous, Jane Jacob’s was a strong proponent of amateur urbanism and urban observers.  Jacobs, and amateur herself, was an outsider with no formal training in planning who was able to turn more than a century of conventional thinking about cities on its head through her own observations.  In this spirit, Jane’s Walk Phoenix is intended to provide an ‘amateur eye view’ of downtown Phoenix.  While we will be accompanied by knowledgeable locals and experts, there will be there largely to answer your questions and highlight  things that you want to here and know more about.  

To help get you thinking,  I have listed a series a questions below to get you thinking of how you appreciate, observe and understand downtown Phoenix.  While you are free to define the downtown area however you’d like, It would be great if you could pay particular attention to the area that we will be covering during Jane’s Walk Phoenix,  between 7th Ave and 7th St, and Van Buren St and the I-10 (i.e. the Roosevelt, Evans Churchill Neighborhoods and ASU Downtown Phoenix Campus).

Please feel free to selected a few questions to answer in the comments section below so that we can start a discussion:

1. What are some important meeting spaces in downtown Phoenix? (important for work, food, thinking, recreation, laughing with friends, local politics – think broadly)

2. What spaces are you most proud of in downtown Phoenix?

3. What are some important green-spaces?

4. What are some interesting short-cuts you take?

5. Where do kids like to play? Adults? Retired folks?

6. Where are some spaces that feel more private, like a small urban oasis?

7. Do any buildings have unusual marks or features?

8. What is your favorite adaptive use project? (older buildings that have been reconfigured into different uses)?

9. Are there any important historical spaces in your neighborhood?

10. Where do you feel most comfortable?

11. Where do you not feel safe?

12. What is a space that you really dislike?

13. What is your favorite mixed-use location (places that mix retail, business and residential)?

14. Are there spaces you would like to see change?

15.  Are there spaces/features you want to see preserved?

And finally:  Is there an important question or idea that should be talked about by everyone?

Jane’s Walk Phoenix needs YOU


Jane Jacobs believed in the power of neighborhoods and in the power of neighbors to build them.  She was a firm advocate for  the importance of local residents having input on how their neighborhoods develop.  She encouraged people to familiarize themselves with the places where they live, work and play.

Jane’s Walk Phoenix was conceived with this notion in mid.  While we have invited local experts and community leaders, the success of the walk will ultimately dependent on the participants.  First, this walk is open to people of all ages, backgrounds, so please bring your children and invite your parents and neighbors to join us.  The Walk route will be wheelchair and stroller friendly.

Second, keeping with Jane’s emphasis on bottom-up organization, Jane’s Walk Phoenix is looking for volunteers to help with the walk itself.  In particular, we are looking looking for a few guides/interpreters to share their stories, knowledge and insights about downtown Phoenix and/or how the concepts expressed by Jane Jacobs can assist in the revitalization of the neighborhood. As well, we will need some ‘sherpas’ to guide people along the route and make sure nobody gets lost and that any stragglers know where to go.  Finally, l am looking for a few people to take pictures during the walk and a few others to post ‘Tweets’.  if you have ideas about downtown you would like to share, or some technical expeertise you want to volunteer, send an email to or leave a message in the comments section.

Of ocurse, if you just want to come out and soak in the sights and sounds of downtown and hear what others have to say, your are more than welcome too!

Press Release


Contact: Yuri Artibise


Phoenix, AZ, April 8, 2009 — Downtown Phoenix will be home to the city’s inaugural Jane’s Walk on Saturday, May 2, 2009. The free walking tour — part of an international annual event commemorating the birthday of renowned urban activist Jane Jacobs, who died in 2006 — will take place between 9:00 and 11:00 am. It will start, and end, at Portland Park on First Avenue and Portland Street (next to the Roosevelt and Central light rail station).

Jane’s Walk is a “street-level celebration” of Jacobs’ legacy and ideas, combining the simple act of walking with personal observations, urban history and local lore as a means of knitting people together into a strong and resourceful community through bottom-up approaches and neighborhood involvement.

Jacobs was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. She had no formal training as a planner, yet wrote what many consider to be the ‘bible’ of urban planning. Her 1961 treatise, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, introduced groundbreaking ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail — concepts that are now common sense to generations of architects, planners, politicians and activists. Jacobs championed the interests and knowledge of local residents and pedestrians over a centralized, car-centered approach to planning. She also promoted refurbishing old buildings instead of tearing them down and building new ones, and demonstrated the desirability of increasing the density of cities instead of sprawling endlessly outward.

Cities across Canada, the U.S. and India will also host Jane’s Walks the first weekend in May. This is the third consecutive year of Jane’s Walks in North America. So far, the walks have occurred in Toronto and New York in 2007, and in Ottawa, Calgary, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Salt Lake City in 2008. This year, the walks have spread to 41 cities, including two in India. Several cities are host to multiple walks.

You don’t have to be familiar with Jacobs’ work to walk. The event is intended to be fun and participatory–everyone has a story and they’re usually keen to share it. Whether you’re a local activist, resident, business owner, politician, preservationist, or simply a citizen who loves your community, participating in Jane’s Walk Phoenix is a great way to celebrate the reemergence of downtown Phoenix as a vital urban hub, and to honor Jacobs’ legacy.

Jane’s Walk USA is managed by the Center for the Living City, a non-profit organization operating out of the University of Utah’s Department of City & Metropolitan Planning. The Center for the Living City is linked in spirit and purpose with its sister organization, The Centre for City Ecology in Toronto.


jacobsTo become involved, get more information, or schedule an interview, please contact Yuri Artibise, coordinator of Jane’s Walk Phoenix at or visit You can also follow us on