10 Key Insights from Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets: A Comprehensive Study

An Overview

Reflecting on the magnificence of Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets, these arteries pulsate with life, weaving the city into a vibrant tapestry. Jacobs’ insightful views on urban planning and design underscore the significant role that well-structured streets play in the city’s heartbeat.

The Essence of Allan Jacobs’ Great Streets

Allan Jacobs, a distinguished urban planner and writer, consistently accentuates the fundamental role of streets in his work. His seminal book, ‘Great Streets,’ serves as a testament to his commitment to understanding and valuing these crucial city lifelines. The text provides a thorough examination of one hundred global streets, shedding light on their distinct character and importance.

Unveiling the Greatness of Streets

‘Great Streets’ by Jacobs highlights the intrinsic value of a street, which transcends mere functionality. A truly great street is more than a transit route; it’s a social nucleus that nurtures community engagement and cultural exchanges. It’s a playground for children, a place for neighbors to converse, and a hub for businesses to flourish. It’s a stage where life’s colorful, chaotic beauty plays out.

Ingredients of Great Streets

Jacobs proposes several elements that collectively constitute a ‘great’ street. Let’s explore these components:

Allan Jacobs' Great Streets

Design & Aesthetics

The design and aesthetic appeal of a street significantly determine its greatness. This encompasses every detail, from the street and sidewalk width to the architectural elegance of the adjacent buildings. Jacobs stresses that beauty should coexist with functionality in street design.

Accessibility & Connectivity

Great streets are universally accessible, ensuring smooth movement for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. They link different city sections seamlessly, promoting efficient transportation.


Diversity is another cornerstone of great streets. They accommodate residential, commercial, and public spaces, offering varied experiences for their users.


Safety is critical in great streets. This extends beyond traffic safety to personal security. Well-lit streets with clear visibility cultivate a sense of safety among users.


A great street brims with life and activity. It is an attractive destination for work, relaxation, or simply immersing in the atmosphere.

Case Studies from ‘Great Streets’

Jacobs delivers comprehensive studies of some of the world’s finest streets in ‘Great Streets.’ Here are a few examples:

Champs-Élysées, Paris

Jacobs lauds the Champs-Élysées for its majesty and refinement. The broad tree-lined sidewalks, the iconic Arc de Triomphe, and the lively cafes make it a hot spot for both tourists and locals.

Market Street, San Francisco

Market Street receives praise for its diversity and vibrancy. It accommodates an assortment of businesses, from luxury boutiques to local markets, rendering it a commercial hub.

Via Giulia, Rome

Via Giulia is notable for its architectural grandeur. The beautifully maintained buildings along the street offer a window into Rome’s rich past.

Wrapping Up

‘Great Streets’ by Allan Jacobs is an enlightening exploration of the critical role of streets in urban planning and design. It makes a convincing case for designing streets that are not just functional but also aesthetically pleasing, diverse, and vibrant. The book is an invaluable resource for urban planners, architects, and policymakers worldwide, inspiring them to craft streets that genuinely function as the city’s heart. To learn more about urban planning principles, visit our article on innovative urban design firms key principles excellence.

Learn more about urban planning on Wikipedia.

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