Street Management and City Design

E. P. Fowler

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Fowler, E. P. (1). Street Management and City Design. Social Forces, 66(2), 365.

Crime , fear of crime , Jane Jacobs , physical diversity , physical environment

In the last ten years environmental sociologists have started to explore the relations between human behavior and the physical environment. This study tests some of the ideas of Jane Jacobs on how neighboring and crime are affected by physical diversity in cities. While neighboring and crime are found to be related to diversity as defined by Jacobs, neighboring is not related to crime, which is also predicted by her theory. The implications for urban planning are considered.

Main finding
This article investigates Jane Jacobs' theory indicating that North American urban cities and environments lack diversity in their land uses, which is linked to increased crime and higher isolation from others. The article finds part of Jane’s theory relating physical disorder and crime to be supported by the data analysis conducted in this study. Physical diversity and neighbor contact were related to fewer reported incidents of crime and juvenile delinquency. However, there was no relation between neighbor contact and crime reported by residents. This is most likely due to the increased likelihood of knowing about more incidents when one knows more neighbors. Physical homogeneity of the built environment makes residents feel safer, but the actual crime rates reflect similar or higher rates of crime to areas with a reputation of high crime.

Description of method used in the article
Questionnaires were used to conduct surveys of residents and businessmen from 19 non-random selections of two to three city blocks in Toronto, Canada. A sample was taken of every seven dwelling units in each area, resulting in a sample of 322. In all, 280 interviews were completed. In addition, census information from the 1971 Canadian census, police interviews, maps, planning data, and observations were also used to test Jane Jacob's theory of crime and physical diversity.

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