Monthly Archives: May 2009

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.


More Jane’s Walk Phoenix Photos

Here are some more pictures from Jane’s Walk Phoenix on May 2, 2009.  Thanks again to Jack London, Nick Bastien (Rail Life), and David Bickford (PHXRailFood) for sharing their photos.

At Roosevelt Park

At Roosevelt Historic Park



'Celebrities' mural on 5th Ave in Roosevelt neighborhood

'Celebrities' mural on 5th Ave in Roosevelt neighborhood

Cibo Urban Pizzeria: great example of adaptive (and mixed) use.

Cibo Urban Pizzeria: great example of adaptive (and mixed) use

A victim of the economic downturn?

A victim of the economic downturn?

The Moeller Building was converted in 2000 into Phoenix first ever loft condominiums.

The Moeller Building was converted in 2000 into Phoenix first ever loft condos

A sideways view of the Echelman sculpture at Phoenix Civic Spac

A sideways view of the Echelman sculpture at Phoenix Civic Spac

ASU's Cronkite School of Journalism

ASU's Cronkite School of Journalism

Kimber Lanning talks about the 'dark days of downtown'.  The Westward Ho is in the background

Kimber Lanning talks about the 'dark days of downtown.' The Westward Ho is in the background

215 E McKinley. A recent example of mixed use (Moira Sushi is on ground floor)and mixed income living

215 E McKinley. A recent example of mixed use (Moira Sushi is on ground floor) and mixed income living

Jane’s Walk Phoenix Recap


Gathering at Portland Park

  The inaugural Jane’s Walk Phoenix was a huge success.   Over thirty people took advantage of the nice weather to come out and celebrate Jane Jacobs and learn more about the neighborhoods of downtown phoenix.  The intimate size of the group allowed people to meet one another and share stories, history and gossip about the streets, parks and building that we passed during the walk.  Special thanks goes to Cartina Knoebl, Greg Esser and Kimber Lanning for sharing their knowledge and insights along the route, as well as all the participants for  their great questions and observations., As I’ve said from the beginning, it’s the participants who are the true guides of the walk.  Special thanks also to Jack London, Nick Bastien (Rail Life), and David Bickford (PHXRailFood) for taking photos along the way.


Let's "Get out and Walk!"


During the walk we learned about the good (adaptive use sites like Morin House and Modified Arts),  saw some of the bad (boarded up buildings and deserted streets) and heard about some of the ugly truths (land-banking) about the Roosevelt and Churchill neighborhoods.. We also talked about the responsibilities each one of us has to make sure that downtown Phoenix (or any neighborhood) is the type of place YOU want to live. I think each person who took part learned something new, even those who have spent years living downtown.  Moreover, and more important, everybody got the opportunity to meet somebody new, building and strengthening the downtown community.  After all, the strength of any neighborhood is the connections between the people who live, work and play in it.



Roosevelt Park



Morin House, recently moved from Evans Neighborhood and restored. Now the new home of a small business.


'1895' House (built in 1897!) Patiently waiting for the next chapter of it's life (hopefully one that doesn't involve a wrecking ball!)


Catrina shares her knowledge with a Light Rail station in background


Seeking shade in the new Civic Space Park, under the watchful eye of Janet Echelman's 'Her Secret is Pateince'


Crossing the street


Mural (in progress) celebrating Valley Youth Theater



In front of adaptive use project (and new HQ of Patry Residential LLC)


Neighborhood garden

Neighborhood garden and community scarecrow



Yuri, Kimber, Nick, Catrina and David in front of Modified Arts (another great adaptive use project)

Happy Birthday Jane!

Jane Jacobs would be celebrating her 93rd birthday today.  She was born on May 4, 1916 in born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, the daughter of a doctor and a former schoolteacher and nurse.  After graduating from Scranton’s Central High School, she took an unpaid position as the assistant to the women’s page editor at the Scranton Tribune. A year later, in the middle of the Great Depression, she left Scranton for New York City.  (wiki)

Take a moment and wish her a happy birthday today!  Better yet, help celebrate it by spending time walking around your favorite part of the city, perhaps stopping at a local business for lunch or a drink.

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.

Tips for Jane’s Walkers

From our SF counterpart  Jane’s Walk: 94117, Nancy McClure:

1. Wear comfortable shoes! Please plan for your foot comfort accordingly!

2. Bring your A Game! We want this to be a discussion, NOT a ‘tour’! We’ve dug up juicy facts about the ‘hood, and will be armed with Jane Jacob’s insight, but the REAL focus of the walk is in the EXPERIENCE. We expect different perspectives and opinions from everyone who participates, and hope that you’ll share ‘em as we stroll along!

3. Bring water and a sweater! [no sweater needed in Phoenix but a hat would be a good idea!]

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.