Professor Emeritus Allan B. Jacobs, from the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California at Berkeley, in January 2010 was awarded the 2010 Seaside Prize in Seaside, Florida. This planned community was the location for most of the shooting of the Jim Carrey film The Truman Show (directed by Peter Weir).
Allan Jacobs taught at Berkeley from 1975 to 2001, following eight years as the Director of City Planning for the City of San Francisco. I studied with Allan Jacobs at Berkeley during the period 1976-78 when I received my Masters degree in City Planning there, took three courses with him and was his teaching assistant (tutor) for an undergraduate course on introduction to city planning.
He was indeed one of my academic mentors. Jacobs’ book Looking at Cities (Harvard University Press, 1985 – sadly out of print) was based in part on a graduate course which he taught called “Walking and Seeing the City”. I was part of the first group to participate in this course (and have an acknowledgement in his book), which consisted of our spending six hours walking different streets and neighbourhoods of San Francisco every Friday afternoon – inevitably ending up at a San Francisco ethnic restaurant for dinner. And what a course it was! And the people we met along the way, including legendary (now deceased) San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen and California Democratic Party leader Willie Brown (Mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004, and Speaker of the California State Assembly, 1980 – 1995).
I still walk city streets – wherever I am – seeing them in part through eyes trained by Allan Jacobs.