Jacob Leslie Crane was born in 1892 in Benzonia, Michigan. He received a degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan and a planning degree from Harvard in 1921, where he studied under John Nolen. Crane worked as a consultant in the United States and 25 other countries, preparing 60 zoning plans and ordinances, and acting as an expert witness in zoning cases. He served as a consultant to many government agencies, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, National Resources Planning Board, Federal Housing Administration, United States Housing Authority, Defense Housing, Housing and Home Finance Agency, and the Division of Urban Development of the National Housing Agency. He was also consultant to the Canal Zone and the Republic of Panama, 1944; member and president of the American Institute of Planners; consultant for the United Nations Department of Social
Affairs, Housing and Planning Section, and the United Nations Technical Assistance Administration; and consultant to many other U.N. projects.