In Memoriam-Jane Holtz Kay

Ms. Kay, who passed away in Boston on Nov. 5 at 74, was an architecture critic and urban activist/author. Her book, “Asphalt Nation,” published in 1997, is a seminal work that lays out the case for auto impacts on cities and alerts people to the direct relationship between transportation and urbanization and to the growing threat of climate change. Her argument and prediction were based on government statistics and well-established scientific evidence.

Jane Holtz Kay calculated in her 1997 book, “Asphalt Nation,” that in less time than it takes you to read this sentence, Americans riding around in cars and trucks will dump another 180,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — and thereby accelerate global warming and hasten the advent of catastrophic flooding in coastal cities like New York.

From the vantage point of November 21, 2012, this latter point is particularly poignant in light of the recent effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Ms. Kay’s sister and a former columnist for The Boston Globe, said Ms. Kay had grown up and raised her own children in the suburbs but decided to give up her car and move to an apartment in Boston when she began writing “Asphalt Nation” in 1991. Ms. Goodman said her sister was one to act on her ideas: “She was a big believer in doing things.”

Ms. Kay’s legacy and inspiration is personal and evidence-based action for social change.

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