I was over at althouse.blogspot.com reading some of the older posts and one was a brief bit about "walkable cities." This is one of the things that first drew me to surrealism in my twenties. I love to walk, and so did the surrealists. My favorite surrealist Philippe Soupault could do thirty miles around Paris in a day. His novel Last Nights of Paris is an all-time hit at my house: it's about walking around Paris at night. It was translated by William Carlos Williams into English in 1927 and remains in print. The translation is poor but the quality of the original is so high that even with the sloppy translation undertaken over a skiing weekend when Williams and his mom were stuck in a ski cabin with the flu it's still one of the best reads of the surrealist movement.
Lutherans are perhaps not so keen on walking as they should be although St. Paul seems to have been an inveterate walker, and Jesus himself could scuff up the old foot leather when he wasn't actually walking on water.
Althouse mentioned that in this month's Prevention magazine (April 2007) there is an article on p. 118 about the top ten walkable cities.
But, if you go to http://www.prevention.com/cities
You find a list of their top 100 cities. Or is it the 100 cities they looked at in order? Newark, NJ is listed as 100th. Austin, TX where Brett lives is listed #2. Henderson, Nevada where WW lived for some time is listed 7th. San Diego is in the top ten, and that's where Carl Sachs lived. Seattle is in the top ten. Portland is also there. One of the great sorrows of life in the bitter cold of the Catskills is that for at least four months of the year walking is painful. And then the sidewalks here are indundated in the spring as they are right now. It's raining and the snow is melting, and there is two inches of water everywhere. When summer does come my neighborhood doesn't even have sidewalks. There was a town meeting last spring and the neighbors simply said we don't want sidewalks. And so that put that in the kabosh, if that's what it's called.
With Aristotle, we believe that philosophy should be based on the peripatetic. With Nietzsche, we believe that any thought that comes when one isn't walking is almost certainly unsound, and maybe can't even be considered a thought.
Paris is certainly the best city in which I've ever walked. Helsinki is not bad at all. In Helsinki you get great views of the frozen seas out toward Estonia and there are amazing Eastern Orthodox cathedrals and excellent shopping and everyone is blond and gorgeous and they have an indigenous style of architecture known as National Romantic. It's a knockout. Seattle is good from center city out clear to Green Lake even in the winter during the drizzle which scarcely soaks one through. Portland, Oregon is excellent because of all the funny little parks. In summer it's hot but it's a dry heat so it's comfortable and there is plenty to see.
Delhi, NY (a mere slip of a village pop. 3000) is not terrible when you are an adult walking alone, but if you have three children under 7 in tow it gets hairy. You can see churches and strange old trees, and of course the ubiquitous American ant cultivating its mound. There are thousands of varieties of birds: I've seen indigo bunting, and even a Barrett owl. There are no sidewalks to speak of in my neighborhood and people come pounding through with the music blasting at 40 mph so I always feel panicked, and have to hold the hands of all three kids the entire time and I can't daydream for even a moment or else we might all be flattened. The woods around Delhi have some ok trails but the rumors of mountain lions in them make me hesitant to venture into them with my tots in tow. Mountain lions would especially like 3-year-old J., because his knees have marshmallows in them to add to the taste, or so I imagine from the viewpoint of the Mountain Lion.