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Summary The Last Great Walk

The Last Great Walk

Ican cities have been designed to cater to cars and discourage pedestrians Curtis guides readers through an engaging intelligent exploration of how something as simple as the way we get from one place to another continues to shape our health our environment and even our national identityNot walking he argues may be one of the most radical things humans have ever don I've always enjoyed a nice leisurely walk and I often walk to do short errands But after reading this record of a walk taken in 1909 from New York City to San Francisco completed in just over 100 days I will never think about walking the same way againEdward Payson Weston left NYC on March 15 1909 to walk to the West Coast He took a mostly northerly route through New York state over to Chicago and across the Great Plains He walked alone except for a car that was supposed to follow him with food and supplies and except for the many crowds and fans that met him along the way He sometimes relied on homeowners to take him in and give him a good meal or to shelter him in storms if he couldn't walk through them This may not sound like much but I can't imagine walking hours and hours every day through rain sleet snow muddy roads roads barely worthy of the name and constant isolation in some parts And yet Weston was part of a still popular but waning movement of pedestrianism As Weston set out the car was becoming a factor in American lifeThe author Wayne Curtis interweaves the story of Weston's walk with information on all manner of related topics the landscape Weston encountered the growing issues around automobiles and how they changed the landscape in ways I had never known I'll never look at a city street with the same eyes again and the rights of individuals in public spaces the importance of movement in locating the self in space among other mental health and physical issuesAfter approximately a hundred years people are beginning to understand what they've lost to the car culture and making efforts to reclaim it If you live in a walkable community count your lucky stars If you don't read this book and figure out how to make some changesI gave this book a rating of 4 because I would have liked to know about other walkers of the period and how those who couldn't walk coast to coast might have emulated Weston I know of one example but I would have enjoyed hearing

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DIn The Last Great Walk journalist Wayne Curtis uses the framework of Weston's fascinating and surprising story and investigates exactly what we lost when we turned away from foot travel and what we could potentially regain with America's new embrace of pedestrianism From how our brains and legs evolved to accommodate our ancient traveling needs to the way that Amer An entertaining book covering different aspects of walking anchored by the historic walk mentioned in the title Well researched and at times even laugh out loud funny the book does make you want to get up and take a long walk though that makes it rather harder to keep reading

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In 1909 Edward Payson Weston walked from New York to San Francisco covering around 40 miles a day and greeted by wildly cheering audiences in every city The New York Times called it the first bona fide walk across the American continent and eagerly chronicled a journey in which Weston was beset by fatigue mosuitos vicious headwinds and brutal heat He was 70 years ol This book should be reuired reading for students of land use planning and municipal councillors

  • Hardcover
  • 256
  • The Last Great Walk
  • Wayne Curtis
  • en
  • 02 September 2018
  • 9781609613723

About the Author: Wayne Curtis

The Last Great Walk an account of a remarkable mile journey taken in and why it’s relevant today His previous book was a cultural history of a loathsome intoxicant.



10 thoughts on “The Last Great Walk

  1. says:

    My first nomination for the best nonfiction book read in 2015I found the story of the 70yo man walking across the US in 1909 fascinating but the commentary on the importance of walking past and present individually and as a species was riveting and thought provokingI'd say but I have to go take a walk And you should just read the book

  2. says:

    This book should be reuired reading for students of land use planning and municipal councillors

  3. says:

    The content about Weston's walk was interesting although I expected of an adventure tale than what it was The content in between reports on Weston's progress was intermittently interesting About the third or fourth time I was reading about how walking is good for our health I started skimming When the author started talking about how cars changed our environment I returned to reading About the third or fourth time the author returned to that particular topic I began skimming again Definitely worth the read It will give you much to think about and you will look at your surroundings a little differently But you have permission to skim when you feel like a dead horse is being beaten Apologies for the gruesome imagery

  4. says:

    Rewarding read with a multifaceted look at how we shaped the 20th Century and how we might shape the 21st Meanwhile I intend to step up my jaywalking

  5. says:

    “Not walking I believe is one of the most radical things we ever decide to do“ xviiiBest thing about this book is that several times it encouraged me to stop reading and take a walk“Chairs are A self sabotaging techniue A sitter is become a custom to the support of a back rest their back muscles weekend and they must recliner even The chair is a machine for producing dependency on itself” P 48I thought this book would effectively be the final word on this event so that the author is forgiven for indulging us with every single detail he found even trivia Yet on p222 I finally learn about Paul Marshall’s 1500 pages of deep research published 2008 2012 As a historical artifact The author could have done this better with longer direct uotations For example the scattered studies of health benefits of walking bored me but cognitive mapping of walking onto spinal cord ganglia at least in cats was uniue Overall though a book about historical walking doesn’t need to invite historical psychology and physiology Some of these segues are especially weak like topography on p112 and traffic engineering on p145 When Curtis talks about TV replacing walking using 2009 stats in 2014 p52 he’d be horrified by what mobile screens have become now even as he predicted a hint of it I’ve never had enough sympathy pedestrians well enough awareness of crosswalks p176The nutrition and health sections are all better written elsewhere and several of his adhoc calculations are just wrong including of walking calories on pg 60Artistic rhetorical flourishes abound some effective than others “Aurora became the drain into which those who couldn’t withstand the buffeting of personal sualls were swept” p158 Curtis does endeavor to end each section with a pithy memorable summary

  6. says:

    An entertaining book covering different aspects of walking anchored by the historic walk mentioned in the title Well researched and at times even laugh out loud funny the book does make you want to get up and take a long walk though that makes it rather harder to keep reading

  7. says:

    After perusing a friends’ response to his reading of this book I ordered it There was something intriguing about the idea of a Seventy year old man walking from NYC to San Francisco then to learn that this stroll occurred in 1909 that caused the intrigue I felt to bloom into a thirst to learn the “why it mattered today” I was not disappointed in the story of Edward Payson Weston or of the author’s building of his case as to why an event that occurred over a century ago had any bearing on life in the fast paced computer age Mr Weston began long walks hundreds of miles in the 1860’s at time when “pedestrianism” events were drawing huge crowds of spectators to witness the completion of such sojourns According to the author’s description he was the Lebron James of the “Pedestrian” world during his day The fanfare around such practices was in its decline when he announced that he would walk from New York City to San Francisco in one hundred days and the journey would begin on his Seventieth Birthday The stamina he had to undertake such a journey would reuire he walk an average of 4729 miles daily 3925 miles83 days as he rested on Sundays He would be supported along the way by turn from hired assistants the kindness of strangers various railroad companies and often large crowds who would join him for sections when he was near their towns – but he was as singular in his uest as he was alone in completing it Within nine months of his completing this walk he walked from San Francisco back to NYC The story of this walk is the basis upon which the author explores the history of walking particularly in America In so doing the reader is given an overall engaging there are occasions when Mr Curtis puts too much of himself in the otherwise well researched material history of roads the psychological effects of walking and the sociological implications of pedestrianism all of which were viewed in comparison to riding in a machine When Mr Weston left New York City roads were still “multiuse” thoroughfares – walkers horses carriages and automobiles all shared the same space and worked out how each would use what space when as all were going in literally every direction Within twenty years of this Great Walk roads were the domain of automobiles only and the other modes of transport once common specifically walking began their decline into uselessness at least in practice Psychologically according to Mr Curtis walking is better for us on every count – physically we are created to walk and have done so for 45 million years our minds “slow down” when we walk and our brains are simulated by what we see as they are empowered by the increased oxygen exercise brings to the body In a machine we are removed from our surroundings and feel detached from the land and each other becoming isolated in our own “reality” When we walk we engage our surroundings others and nature in such a way that reality becomes of an experiential moment than merely one that is observedThe author holds out hope that the domain of the automobile is now where walking was in 1909 – on its way to becoming an option rather than the expectation of transportation He cites the city planners who are looking again at mixed use roads; multi use dense communities whose real estate is valued on its Walk Score than its size and the desire of many Millennials to not have to purchase insure maintain and gas an automobile when other modes of “getting around” are so much cheaper and healthierThis book is a treasure for those who enjoy learning “obscure” history and how history influences the life we presently live The author attempted to walk a “Weston” a 40 mile walking day and found he could not accomplish it even though he is decades younger than Mr Weston Perhaps if I start today I could get to the place where I could walk 15 miles in a day without experiencing profound injury or death It may take me until I am Mr Weston’s age but that sounds like a worthy challenge

  8. says:

    I've always enjoyed a nice leisurely walk and I often walk to do short errands But after reading this record of a walk taken in 1909 from New York City to San Francisco completed in just over 100 days I will never think about walking the same way againEdward Payson Weston left NYC on March 15 1909 to walk to the West Coast He took a mostly northerly route through New York state over to Chicago and across the Great Plains He walked alone except for a car that was supposed to follow him with food and supplies and except for the many crowds and fans that met him along the way He sometimes relied on homeowners to take him in and give him a good meal or to shelter him in storms if he couldn't walk through them This may not sound like much but I can't imagine walking hours and hours every day through rain sleet snow muddy roads roads barely worthy of the name and constant isolation in some parts And yet Weston was part of a still popular but waning movement of pedestrianism As Weston set out the car was becoming a factor in American lifeThe author Wayne Curtis interweaves the story of Weston's walk with information on all manner of related topics the landscape Weston encountered the growing issues around automobiles and how they changed the landscape in ways I had never known I'll never look at a city street with the same eyes again and the rights of individuals in public spaces the importance of movement in locating the self in space among other mental health and physical issuesAfter approximately a hundred years people are beginning to understand what they've lost to the car culture and making efforts to reclaim it If you live in a walkable community count your lucky stars If you don't read this book and figure out how to make some changesI gave this book a rating of 4 because I would have liked to know about other walkers of the period and how those who couldn't walk coast to coast might have emulated Weston I know of one example but I would have enjoyed hearing

  9. says:

    This 2014 book gets 4 out of 5 stars It really held my interest I found out about a popular cultural phenomenon of the late 19th century American pedestrianism During the 1870s and 1880s America’s most popular spectator sport wasn’t baseball or football—it was competitive walking Inside sold out arenas competitors walked around dirt tracks almost nonstop for six straight days risking their health and sanity to see who could walk the farthest—500 miles was standard This book is about the “final” mega stroll of Edward Payson Weston who in 1909 walked across the USA on a bet that he could ambulate from coast to coast in 100 days or less demanding an average of 40 miles a day Weston was 70 years old when me took on the challenge He was the best known of the competitive walkers We join the taciturn Weston as he is mostly angered but rarely dismayed about the unexpected pitfalls that he encountered through the Great Plains over the Rockies across some deserts and often struggling through deep mud The upside of his western journey were the massive crowds that greeted him as his highly publicized venture was big National news At the time there were far fewer roads into the West The automobile was just gaining momentum at the time and tarred roads were unheard of outside the populated Eastern seaboard Weston often walked the newly established railroad system and was challenged by navigational issues deep sections of sticky mud and downright nasty weather He left new your on a chilly March day The book’s back story is about the loss of walking as a viable means to getting about one’s local communities as well as a highly interesting discussion about the medical physical and spiritual benefits that are gained from spending hours moving about the countryside on our own two feet The book is very well written and authored by Wayne Curtis the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year in 2002

  10. says:

    In The Last Great Walk author Wayne Curtis shares the story of Edward Payson Weston otherwise known as ‘Weston the Pedestrian” In 1909 Weston undertook to walk from New York to San Francisco in 100 days The man was 70 years of age on the day he began the long trek across the continent This was a time when automobiles were beginning to make headway into the lives of ordinary Americans Curtis in his telling of Weston’s walk alternately describes the collision of the automobile era with the bipedal form It was with fascination that I went along on Weston’s journey and the story of what we have lost in moving away from foot travel its impact on our bodies homo sapiens are designed to walk eight to 12 miles a day our minds walking helps keep our minds sharp and our society and surroundings Makes me want to put on my walking shoes and grab a map Amy O

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