Ah, spring, the time for baseball, gardening and, not least, walking. The strolling season brings walks for charity, walks for fun and, in many cities across the world, including Hartford and Norwich, walks to honor one of the great advocates for cities.
Jane Jacobs Walks, to be held May 5 and 6, honor the author and urbanist, the housewife who championed street life and saved Washington Square from a four-lane highway. Ms. Jacobs' observations of the messy ballet that was street life in Greenwich Village in the 1950s informed her classic 1961 "Death and Life of American Cities," which would provide the philosophical underpinning for the New Urbanist movement toward denser and more diverse neighborhoods and cities.
Ms. Jacobs urged people to celebrate the streets and get to know their neighborhoods. In 2007, a year after Ms. Jacobs' death, friends in her adopted city of Toronto started the walks as a way of remembering this unique woman. The walks have now expanded to nearly 70 cities around the world.
In Hartford, three walks will be held May 5, each exploring different parts of the West End (see http://bit.ly/HH556I for details). The walk in downtown Norwich will be May 6. They are free and begin at 10 a.m. See http://www.janejacobswalk.org/events/2012-events/ for general information.
This country's total devotion to cars has managed to engineer walking out of many people's lives, ironically at a time when research is showing that, as Tom Vanderbilt reported in a recent series in the online magazine Slate (http://slate.me/HGFRmk), walking can make you smarter, reduce depression, lower blood pressure and even raise your self-esteem.
Jane Jacobs Walks are a great way to get those feet moving again.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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