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John Brinckerhoff Jackson. At Berkeley. Photograph by Jennifer Williams, 1981. Courtesy of Paul Groth.

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Jackson, John Brinckerhoff (25 September 1909–28 August 1996), essayist, cultural geographer, and interpreter of the American-built environment, was born in Dinard, France, the son of William Brinckerhoff Jackson, an independently wealthy attorney, and Alice Richardson Jackson, who later became an antiques buyer for Bonwit Teller department store in New York City. John's parents lived near Washington, D.C., and traveled widely. They divorced when he was four, and he then lived in Europe and the New York area with his mother and two siblings by her previous marriage. John's father paid for him to attend the best private boarding schools in the United States and Europe, including drawing classes near Fontainbleau and two years at Le Rosey in Switzerland. John also spent several summers on his uncle Percy Jackson's ranch in Wagon Mound, New Mexico. By his teenage years, John was fluent in French, German, and Spanish, and was adept at sketching as a method of recording built environments....