Books

It's a Helluva Town: Joan K. Davidson, The J.M.Kaplan Fund and the Fight for a Better New York 

"Scratch the surface of so many of the initiatives and ideas that have made New York a better place to live and work and you'll find the deft hand of the J.M.Kaplan Fund...New York owes much to a wise, energetic, and committed woman, in this case the Fund's indomitable leader for many of its seventy-five years, Joan K. Davidson." - Darren Walker, president, Ford Foundation. 

"In Roberta Gratz's exhilarating account, the stewards of the family-run Kaplan Fund emerge as modern-day Medicis: patrons of the arts and artists, defenders of the natural and built environments...In the course of half a century they have raised activist philanthropy to a fine art." - ​John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. 

We're Still Here Ya Bastards: How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City 

"Roberta Gratz knows as much about the way cities work as anyone alive. In We're Still Her Ya Bastards she turns her sharp, experienced eye on New Orleans, post-Katrina, and delivers a lucid assessment of the city's stunning progress as well as its chronic, sometimes toxic, problems." - Tom Piazza, author of Why New Orleans Matters and City of Refuge.

"No major American event of this century has generated so much myth as the 2005 flooding of New Orleans. Roberta Gratz tackles these assumed truths with two essential tools: the tenacity of an old-style journalist and the devotion of a Jane Jacobs-style urbanist. Most important to me, she writes not only with understanding, but with deep affection for this incomparable city." - Harry Shearer

 

"Roberta Gratz has masterfully assembled a chorus of New Orleans voices to tell the story of their city. This book is a clarion call to the nation and the world." - Lolis Eric Elie, story editor, HBO's Treme

The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs (Nation Books, April 2010)

In her provocative book, acclaimed urbanist Roberta Brandes Gratz – voted one of Planetizen’s top 100 urban thinkers – challenges the conventional wisdom on how cities authentically regenerate. Through the clashing visions of postwar urban renewal (highway building czar Robert Moses on the one hand and urbanist author and activist Jane Jacobs on the other), Gratz examines the fall and remarkable comeback of New York City and demonstrates how this story parallels that of many American cities. Battle For Gotham argues that New York City reached its lowest point after decades of destructive Moses projects, and began an organic regeneration with Moses’s demise and the cessation of his sweeping, federally funded projects that wiped out so much of the city. New York’s turnaround, Gratz illustrates, began with the small, local citizen-led efforts reflecting the urban philosophy of Jacobs.

The Living City: How America’s Cities Are Being Revitalized by Thinking Small in a Big Way

“An intelligent analysis. Sensible, undoctrinaire, even good-humored. An appealing mixture of passion and clinical dispassion.” –Washington Post Book World. “The best antidote I’ve read to the doom-and-gloom prophecies concerning the future of urban America.” –Bill Moyers. “This is fresh and fascinating material; it is essential for understanding not only how to avoid repeating terrible mistakes of the past, but also how to recover from them.” –Jane Jacobs, author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities. From coast to coast across America there are countless urban success stories about rejuvenated neighborhoods and resurgent business districts. Roberta Brandes Gratz defines the phenomenon as “urban husbandry”—the care, management, and preservation of the built environment nurtured by genuine participatory planning efforts of government, urban planners, and average citizen.

Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown

“In Cities Back from the Edge, Gratz and Mintz offer a love song for the city—their volume, attractively packaged and richly illustrated, is really a cookbook for downtown revitalization. It turns out the most valuable contribution to urban understanding of the year isn’t only a book, it’s also a bumper sticker: Think globally, act locally.” –The Wall Street Journal

 

Cities Back From the Edge was featured again in The New York Times. Frank Rich writes, “In their new book persuasively arguing for less grandiose, more indigenous urban renewal, Roberta Brandes Gratz and Norman Mintz write that a ‘collection of visitor attractions does not add up to a city’ whether those attractions are cultural centers, convention centers, aquariums, stadiums or enclosed malls.” –The New York Times

A Frog, A Wooden House, A Stream and A Trail: Ten Years of Community Revitalization in Central Europe (Rockefeller Brothers Fund, March 1, 2000).  

For nine years, Gratz worked with William Moody of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Central Europe advising citizens in cities and small town on the art of urban regeneration. This book length report describes many of these projects and their success after that period of time.

Chapters in the following books:

“Jane Jacobs: Environmental Preservationist” in What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs edited by Stephen A. Goldsmith, Lynne Elizabeth and Arlene Goldbard, New Village Press, 2010.

Introduction: Authentic Urbanism and the Jane Jacobs Legacy” in Urban Villages and the Making of Communities, edited by Peter Neal, Spon Press (London & New York), 2003.

Jane Jacobs” in American Rebels, edited by Jack Newfield, Nation Books, 2003.