Other Walkers, Part 1: New York

General note about this series of entries: It is hard to know how many other every-street walkers are out there. I imagine there plenty who go about their walking quietly, without being noticed by the local news media or without documenting it for the general public online or in print. If you happen to know someone who has walked or is currently in the process of walking every street somewhere (a few are highlighted in my links on the right sidebar) please let me know.

I would not go so far as calling every-street walking in Manhattan to be a trend, but there appear to be more people who have walked all of the streets of this New York City borough than anywhere else. If I lived there I would walk every street as well. Last year I was in New York for a week and walked all day long every day I was there, throughout Manhattan and a bit of Brooklyn, and felt I had barely scratched the surface of this place. The walker who most inspired my Berkeley walk was Caleb Smith. His walk was written up in the New Yorker and documented on his website. Mike Epstein, who runs the photoblog Satan’s Laundromat, was inspired by Smith’s walk. On Flickr, you can follow the journeys of the everystreetinmanhattan walkers.

Manhattan is huge. But then there are the other boroughs. Gary Jarvis probably has the right idea for attacking Brooklyn: he is running every street there. John McNamara, who wrote a number of books on the Bronx, including History of Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names, apparently walked every street in the Bronx (and canoed or kayaked every waterway there) in his time. Staten Island and Queens may not seem to some people to be the first place to walk, but both of these places appear to have many hidden surprises for walkers. If you are inspired to walk in New York City, Forgotten NY has an amazing (and overwhelming) amount of suggestions for things see, including historical buildings of all sorts, abandoned theaters and hospitals, amusement park remains, old signs, street lamps, hidden alleys, and more.

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8 Comments »

  1. Spike said

    It is hard to know how many other every-street walkers are out there.

    Francine Corcoran finished Minneapolis in July last year. Other than her and those listed on your blog, mine, Suzanne’s and the Flickrites you linked to, there seem to be few every-street walkers blogging. More’s the pity.

    The walker who most inspired my … walk was Caleb Smith.

    Same here.

  2. Caleb said

    Hey, Caleb Smith here, your site is great. It’s hard to keep up with all of the every-street people! I was just in Berkeley, so beautiful. There are a couple of people who walked/are walking every SanFranciso street- there was an article a few months ago in the SF chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/12/18/PKG7DG81961.DTL
    One reason I think a lot of people are doing the every street thing is that American cities are relatively safe these days, crime-wise. Not too long ago many neighborhoods in Manhattan were pretty dangerous, but now I feel relatively safe everywhere, at least during the day. Anyway, good luck with your Berkeley walk!
    Hi Spike!
    Caleb

  3. Gary said

    I agree with Caleb about the crime thing. There are a number of neighborhoods here in Brooklyn that are sketchy enough now — I don’t think I would’ve wanted to run in them a decade ago, regardless of the time of day.

    But I think another aspect is technology. I know Caleb used a regular old Hagstrom map of Manhattan on his walks (and, truth be told, my main planning tool is the fold-out paper Hagstrom map of Brooklyn, on which I fill in the streets with an orange highlighter as I run them). But the recent introduction of things like Google maps (which I use all the time) and handheld GPS receivers (which I don’t) certainly facilitates the every-street thing.

    Caleb’s right, it does seem like there are a lot of us these days. But I wonder whether people have always been doing this kind of thing, and it’s just blogs and digital photographs which make it seem like a new phenomenon. I’d be willing to bet that there are hundreds of folks out systematically walking (and maybe running?) their own cities even now, but we’ll never hear about most of them.

    Anyway, Jen, I enjoy your site very much. Continued good luck and I look forward to reading more!

  4. Spike said

    Hi Caleb. Tom Graham did a series of audio whatsits to go with those articles. Haven’t listened to them yet.

    Here’s hoping all those folks start blogging, Gary. It’d be great to hear from more of them.

  5. […] I had seriously hoped to have many posts about people walking every street of cities in different parts of the world, but this may not be the case. I found plenty of every-street walkers in New York and California, but not many in other places. In the U.S., Francine Corcoran walked every street in Minneapolis. In New Mexico, Suzanne is walking all 400 miles of Catron County. […]

  6. Tom Graham said

    Ran across your blog on walking every city street and am glad that folks who are doing it are keeping in touch. Although I didn’t know about them until I started walking every street in San Francisco, I have been inspired by the others who have done it (or are currently doing it). They include: Alan Waddell (Sydney, Australia), Caleb Smith (Manhattan), Francine Corcoran (Minneapolis) and others.

    I’ve walked more than a thousand miles, so far and am nearing the end of my walk along every street of San Francisco. Crime, however, is still a problem here, tho, and the neighborhoods I am walking through right now are pretty dicey.

  7. I am now a bit over half way through walking every street and lane in Paris. Does anyone have any contacts or information?

    Merci,

    Marvin

  8. Simon Moss said

    So there are others. I’m also in the middle of walking every street and lane in Paris.
    Marvin – I don’t really have any contacts or information. I just use the Velib map. But how do you propose to do the Rue de l’Elysée? There are plenty of private streets and impasses but you can usually dodge the security if you’re lucky. Doing that in the Rue de l’Elysée might get you shot. Any ideas?

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