Jane Jacobs, the author of the influential book The Death and Life of Great American Cities has died at the age of 89.

In her best known book, published in 1961, Jacobs criticized redevelopment efforts in many large cities, known at the time as "urban renewal." She led protests against urban highway projects that would have razed established but run down neighborhoods. Instead, she proposed development work to keep diverse neighborhoods connected, and policies to emphasize pedestrian traffic in cities over automobiles.

Jacobs' initial impact on urban America was controversial, but her book soon became required reading for students of architecture and city planning.

Born in the northeastern U.S. state of Pennsylvania in 1916, Jacobs moved to New York City in the 1930s, where she began writing about the city's many and varied industrial districts.

She and her family moved to Toronto in 1968 due to opposition to the Vietnam War. She died in Toronto on Tuesday.