Recently I’ve been wandering through the streets of New York City, thanks to a remarkable website called I’m Just Walkin’. A fellow named Matt, who previously walked across the U.S., is now walking in New York, and as he says on the site, “By the time I finish walking every block of every street in all five boroughs, I’ll have traveled more than 8000 miles on foot — all within a single city.”
The site is in the form of a blog, and with monthly calendars you can see which days he has walked. He generally posts several photos on every day that he walks.
I have found that the fastest way to work my way through the site is to go to the archives for a particular month, click on the first day of the month that he walked on, let it load, and scroll down it. When I am curious about one of his remarks that has a link, I open that in a new tab, read it, and then continue my journey. When I get to the bottom of the page, I go back to the top and choose the next date. (Once in a while, photos from more than one date are on the same page; then I just choose the next date and continue on my way.)
He explains what he is doing on this page. I’ll quote the last bit:
The excitement of New York, and the whole world for that matter, is that there’s always something else to see, and something else to learn, no matter how long you’ve been around. To me it is profoundly encouraging to think of how many secrets will still lie undiscovered after I’ve walked every last one of these goddamned streets. At its core, my walk is an oxymoron: an exhaustive journey through an inexhaustible city.
What he’s going to find next is what keeps me looking! Matt obviously cares about history, and provides links to all sorts of historic information, about buildings, about people, about communities.
He photographs 9/11 memorials, mailboxes, doorways, waterways, trains, roads, buildings of all sorts, signs, street art of all kinds, and more–everything he sees is grist for his mill. It certainly doesn’t have to be pretty. I chose this particular photo to use (after emailing him for permission) simply because it was a favorite of mine.
I keep a tab open to I’m Just Walkin’ in my browser, and pop in several times a day. A couple of nights after I started wandering through New York this way, I dreamt that I was going down a lane with vividly colored autumn leaves in sight ahead of me. An old boyfriend of mine who lives in New York (you know who you are, RP!) admonished me to pay attention and stay in the present moment. In the dream, I did, and since finding this website I’ve been more attentive than usual to the world around me, here in my small town.
I love to walk, and I come from a family with some serious walkers in it. I’ve gone for walks in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Africa, Asia, and Europe, at different times in my life. My ambitions now are much more modest than Matt’s, though: walking my dogs, an outing now and then with friends. I’m definitely in the minor leagues. But thanks to Matt’s adventures in New York, my vision of our world has expanded.