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The Complete Guide to 'Border Vacuums'

As Jane Jacobs preached, large-scale highways, parks, and big buildings can all divide communities, discouraging street life and sucking the life out of cities. Here’s how to spot (and fix) them.
Sometimes the "wrong side of the tracks" is both sides.
Sometimes the "wrong side of the tracks" is both sides.TheCoolQuest/flickr

No way around it: Borders suck the life out of a city and its neighborhoods. Not just literal walls and barriers. Many features of urban life—from roads to parks to buildings—can cut off activity in public spaces and create what’s called a “border vacuum.”

As with much urbanist lingo, we look to Jane Jacobs for its coinage. In Death and Life of American Cities, she dedicated an entire chapter to “The Curse of Border Vacuums.” Here’s the Jane-splain on what a border does: