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The Use of Sidewalks: Contact

November 14, 2008

This is a continuation of the series of posts about Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. The last post was about the use of sidewalks relating to the safety of cities. Today’s post is related to sidewalks’ use for contact among people, namely strangers.

41qzabjvsbl_sl160_Humans are innately social beings. However, there is a limit to our sociability among strangers. We all will accept a certain degree of social contact with strangers, but if that contact begins to encroach upon our private lives, it is unacceptable to us. This is one purpose of sidewalks – it allows us to have the contact that we desire as humans with people whom we don’t necessarily know, yet still maintain our private lives. Jacobs says that is what appeals to people about city life – they don’t have to worry with people butting into their private lives, as is the case in most small towns. The only people who know about your private life are those whom you choose to tell about it. However, in small towns or in suburbs where there is little sidewalk activity, people must make up for the lack of public contact on the sidewalks by opening up their private lives more in order to achieve the contact they so desire.

  1. John permalink
    February 12, 2012 10:15 pm

    I think the thing is really cool


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