Thanks to the nice folks over at Yahoo!, who featured Walking Berkeley as a Yahoo! Pick, there may be a few new readers of this blog. The About section and the first post of this blog provide an overview of this project, but I thought I’d take some time to expand on those posts and answer a few common questions:
Why did you decide to walk every street and pathway in Berkeley? Why not just walk some of the streets?
It may seem like a slightly obsessive-compulsive activity to some, but I feel that walking every street of Berkeley will give me a good sense of the city. Often we take the same routes around the places we live and miss out entirely on interesting things. Most of us, myself included, have exclaimed at some point, “Oh, I have lived here for years and I had no idea such and such existed.” I love the excitement of walking down a new street.
How far will you be walking?
Berkeley has around 230 miles of paved streets, all of which I plan to walk. Additionally I will be walking the passable pathways (about 100 out of the 136 in Berkeley), which range from stairs to paved and dirt paths. This will add several more miles. Of course, the amount of mileage will be much greater because I will retrace streets to get to other streets, walk back from dead-end streets, etc.
Do you hope to prove anything about Berkeley by the end of this walk?
Many people associate Berkeley with certain ideas — hippies, People’s Park, the Free Speech Movement, Chez Panisse and the Gourmet Ghetto, radical politics, historic preservation, for example. I have encountered a range of reactions when I say I live in Berkeley, from the “Berzerkeley” and “People’s Republic of Berkeley” comments, to nostalgia for an era that has passed, to feelings of either dislike or love for the city. I hope to walk with an open mind, and observe everything and report what I find throughout Berkeley.
Is this a political blog?
No, not really. I do not have a political agenda I am trying to push, and I plan to report on a wide range of things that I observe on my walks. Often I will include the questions I have asked myself on a particular walk or provide background or further research on a topic, but the focus of this blog is not Berkeley politics.
Why Berkeley and not San Francisco?
San Francisco is a beautiful and interesting place to walk. I have lived in San Francisco in the past and still visit often (a trip from Berkeley to San Francisco on BART takes about 20-40 minutes depending on which stations you are travelling to and from). I have done lots of walking there, and plan to continue doing so. But I want to get to know the city where I live, and I would like provide some ideas for others who are interested in exploring Berkeley.
Do you walk alone or with others? May I come on a walk?
I do quite a bit of the walking on my own, but I am also sometimes accompanied by my partner, Joe, who is a photographer. Some of his photos of Berkeley appear in this blog along with mine. I welcome the company of others on my walks, although I have jokingly warned some people that these are far from guided tours. I am also happy to receive suggestions and feedback about the background and history of specific places in Berkeley.
What will you do after you finish walking every street in Berkeley?
Currently I have quite a backlog of discoveries and topics to write about, so I imagine I will be writing about them for awhile after the completion of the entire walk. I will continue to take walks in Berkeley, and revisit favorite spots. I hope to put together some thematic walks to feature here on the blog and perhaps in printed form, and to collaborate with Hidden Gems of Berkeley, a map and bike tour of interesting spots in Berkeley. Finally, I plan to walk the streets of neighboring communities that are easily accessible either on foot or by transit, such as Albany, Kensington, Emeryville, and Oakland.
I would like to walk every street in my city or town, but it is too big/boring/dangerous/etc.
Berkeley happens to be a fairly good-sized town for every-street walking — not to small or big, and with a mix of hills and flatlands. Depending on where you live, you could walk your immediate neighborhood, or a part of town that you like, or focus on walks that center around something that interests you, such as architecture or gardens or parks. You could also walk in the neighborhood where you work or go to school, or take a subway or train or ferry or bicycle to a neighborhood that you have always wanted to explore. For some more ideas, please visit some the websites of other walkers I have linked to on the right sidebar of this blog.
If you have other questions, please feel free to ask!