PD Smith

The New York Nobody Knows

29 November 2013 | cities, New York | Post a comment

Sociologist William B Helmreich knows New York City better than most people. He has walked almost every block in the city's five boroughs. That's 6,048 miles in the last four years. Or, measured in shoe leather - that's nine pairs of shoes. Helmreich admits that "you have to be a little crazy to explore the city as I did". But the result is a wonderful book, one that echoes with the voices of one of the greatest cities on the planet.

My review of The New York Nobody Knows is in Saturday's Guardian. This is the first paragraph:

'"Walking is the best way to explore and exploit the city", writes Iain Sinclair in Lights Out for the Territory. It's a truth that was discovered in 19th-century Paris by the flâneur – that "botanist on asphalt", to use Walter Benjamin's memorable phrase – who turned the city's boulevards into drawing rooms in which to dissect the metropolitan crowd. And now, from Tokyo to London, urbanophiles agree that it is through what Michel de Certeau beautifully termed "the long poem of walking" that you can truly understand that most complex and beguiling feature of modern life: the city.'

Read the rest online here.

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