My wife and I attended public meetings in New York City to watch Jane Jacobs successfully overturn the Lower Manhattan Expressway proposed by Robert Moses in the mid-1960s and beat back the Spadina Expressway in Toronto a few years later (“A Marvelous Order,” summer 2016). Ms. Jacobs had little use for planners but mellowed a bit toward the end of her life. By then, we planners had embraced the principles she expressed in her seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

—Alan Demb ’61, Toronto, Ontario

Photo by Roman Iwasiwka

Activist Jane Jacobs fought a plan by Robert Moses that would ease congestion in Lower Manhattan but displace roughly 2,000 families and 400 businesses. Image courtesy MTA Bridges & Tunnels Special Archive.

The opera A Marvelous Order, which had a sold-out “pre-premiere” at the ’62 Center for Theatre and Dance in March, brings together the creative talents of composer Judd Greenstein ’01, director/animator Joshua Frankel ’02 and choreographer Will Rawls ’00. With a libretto written by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith, the opera weaves together the stories of urban planner Robert Moses, activist Jane Jacobs and the city of New York in the 1960s. The creative team spent the spring semester on campus, teaching courses and leading workshops and discussions related to the opera, which is expected to open in New York City sometime in 2018. Learn more at