Tyrnauer ’91 Creates Film About Urban Activist Jane Jacobs

Editorial StaffMay 15, 20172min

(By K Alshanetsky ’17)

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer ’91 is the producer and director of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a new documentary about author and activist Jane Jacobs. Most famous for her influence on urban studies and urban planning, Jacobs’s legacy will be playing out on screens in nearly 20 cities across the country.

The documentary film chronicles her rise as a critical voice and visionary during the urbanization movement of the 1960s. Fighting to preserve urban communities against the threat of destructive redevelopment projects, Jacobs did much to influence modern understandings of urban environments and the American city. A review in The New York Times draws connections between the city that Jacobs lived in during the 70s and the version we are left with today:

In the 1970s … Mr. Trump acquired the Commodore Hotel, near Grand Central Terminal, in exchange for big tax breaks that would extend for decades. In the author’s view, this was the beginning of the end for New York — the beginning, as she puts it, of displacement for working-class New Yorkers as the city sought to save itself from further decline by ingratiating itself to the wealthy, here and abroad. Oligarchs didn’t just arrive on West 57th Street in 2013; they had, in fact, been systematically courted for a very long time.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City is playing in select theaters across the country. Check out the schedule and buy tickets here. It is also available to watch on demand here.