Saturday, June 11, 2011

Theory Confirmed!

Jane Jacobs’s theory was that properly-designed cities should, all else being equal, have less crime per capita than suburbs—because there are always people around with eyes open, there isn’t as much room for a criminal to hide. Criminals thrive without scrutiny, is the basic theory.

That basic theory seems to be confirmed a little bit by New York’s wonderful High Line park, which has had not a single major crime reported. This almost sounds implausible or ridiculous—no one has gotten into a fight or something?—but I suppose it’s true. I have no special reason to disbelieve. There are some structural reasons inherent to the High Line that make criminality difficult (e.g.: if you’re a pickpocket, what’s your escape route? Jumping off?), but I think it comes down to the eyes theory. As one quotation puts it:
“Empty parks are dangerous,” said Joshua David, one of the founders of Friends of the High Line. “Busy parks are much less so. You’re virtually never alone on the High Line.”

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