In The Death and Life of Great American Cities, written in 1961, Jane Jacobs observed, “Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.
”Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring How the Character of Buildings and Blocks Influences Urban Vitality, a new report from Preservation Green Lab, validates Jacobs’ long-respected, but largely untested hypothesis — that neighborhoods containing a mix of older, smaller buildings of different ages support greater levels of positive economic and social activity than areas dominated by newer, larger buildings.
The three study cities — San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. — all have extensive older building stock and strong real estate markets. In this toolkit, we share the highlights from the research as well as the steps your community can take to realize similar benefits. (See the full report and methodology here.)