As the great urbanist and author, Jane Jacobs, spent her life challenging citizens, planners, and architects to design better, safer, and more interesting cities, it’s fitting that an annual celebration of her work takes form in an international day for…walking! This year the Silver Spring Historical Society will lead a Jane’s Walk tour on Sunday, May 7, here’s more:


Born in 1916, Jane Jacobs spent her life advocating for cities and communities developed for and by the people who inhabited them. During her time writing for Architectural Forum in the 1950s, she penned an article deeply criticizing a new development in Philadelphia for community displacement and destruction, which led to an invitation to write a piece for Fortune magazine. Her article, “Downtown is for the People” champions a city that nourishes diversity and variety in both its streets and its people.

Not an academically trained architect or planner, Jacobs went on to research and develop one of the strongest and well-known theories on good urbanism, and published The Death and Life of American Cities in 1961. The book argued against the mainstream planning styles of her day, positing that:

  • Instead of dividing city space based on use – residential, commercial, or industrial – cities should maintain the complexity of mixed-use space,
  • Developers occupied with wide open plazas and birds-eye views would create a sterile and boring environment,
  • Sidewalks, not roads, were the main arteries of the city, and should be walk able for the individual and at a human scale.

More about Jane Jacobs

What are Jane’s Walks?

Jane’s Walks are free walking tours that encourage people to engage with each other, their communities, and Jane Jacob’s idea that the best way to understand, experience, and change a city is through walking its streets. They began as a way to honor Jacobs and her legacy through encouraging citizen conversation, activism and urban literacy with regards to their hometowns. Anyone can lead a walk, and the tours are free, making them and the city accessible to each city’s diverse community. Walking tours can also be on any topic, providing continual opportunities to learn about and engage with a city’s history, neighborhoods, and culture.


On Sunday, May 7, the president of the Silver Spring Historical Society, Jerry A. McCoy will lead a Jane’s Walk walking tour of the City’s historic sites, including the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad station, the Canada Dry bottling plant, and the original spring for which the area is named. Meet under the track side canopy of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station on Georgia Avenue at Sligo Avenue. The tour will start at 1pm and end around 3:30pm.

The tour loop 

This post was written by Maggie Pelta-Pauls, a Waxter Intern with Preservation Maryland. A graduate of The College of William and Mary, Maggie is primed to research and write about Maryland history – especially culinary history. Learn more about Maggie and our The Waxter Memorial Internship program here: