The “something of a fad” of walking every block of a city

Want to walk every street in your community? The New York Times suggests you may be part of a fad:

Even in the era of Google Street View, walking each mile of a city has become something of a fad. A woman finished walking every street in Berkeley in 2007. A man in his mid-90s walked over 300 miles of Sydney, Australia, before he died in 2008. It took three years for a Minneapolis woman, Francine Corcoran, to walk the 1,071 miles that make up the city. London has been walked, as has San Francisco.

And while the other walkers did not set off explicitly to round up wackiness the way Mr. Dalzell did, at a walker’s pace, they no doubt saw plenty of it anyway.

“When you walk a city block by block, you are forced to slow down and look at everything — you see more, you feel more, you get into the rhythm of the neighborhoods,” said William B. Helmreich, a professor of sociology at City College of New York who wrote “The New York Nobody Knows,” a book about walking every street — some 6,000 miles — of the city’s five boroughs.

“In urban areas, you often don’t feel like an individual, which makes you want to put your stamp of uniqueness on something,” Professor Helmreich said, “even if it is just the paint on your house.”

I agree that this approach would get you closer to day-to-day life in a large city. However, I wonder at the use of the phrase “something of a fad.” A fad implies something that is quite popular but dies out quickly. In other words, it is a trend. But, the article goes on to cite at least six people who have done this over a seven year stretch. Is this enough to be a pattern or trend? The only way I see this working is due to the unusual nature of this activity: it requires a lot of dedication and time. Because of this, even getting a few people to do this and record their activities (are there secret whole-city walkers out there?) might be enough to qualify as a fad. But, it is hard to imagine this truly becoming a fad, either in being something people want to do or actually do.

0 thoughts on “The “something of a fad” of walking every block of a city

  1. Pingback: A “sociological record” of inside all of Poland’s homes | Legally Sociable

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