Sunday, November 22, 2009

Let's Have A Jane's Walk In Pittsburgh

Been visiting NYC again, going to museums and walking the streets and looking at the endlessly fascinating fabric of the city at ground level. Why people choose to live here and not there? why are some blocks crowded and others empty and dangerous? It's always interesting.

I always want to kiss the ground (umm-- not wise) and remember how close the city came to being destroyed by starry eyed urban planners armed with billions in Federal tax dollars. Jane yelled stop and asked people to walk the streets of their cities and look and and think about the practical, common sense things that made them tick. Sadly, most people didn't listen.

"All Hypotheses get tested in the real world"

For the last three years a project called Jane's Walk has invited volunteer guides to take people around and talk about the unique things that work well and make their neighborhoods special.

"Each of the participating cities in Jane’s Walk finds its own volunteer tour guides to conduct walking tours. Some tours focus on heritage sites, while others explore the nooks and crannies of the city. From great hangouts for kids to ethnic business and residential enclaves, the tours and their leaders are diverse like cities themselves."

The list of Jane's Walks from 2009

Dayton, Ohio
Jackson, Mississippi
Moscow, Idaho
New Orleans
New York City
Oklahoma City
Salt Lake City
San Francisco
Spanish Harlem, New York City
Starkville, Mississippi
St. Louis

Notice a trend-- almost no "rust belt" cities on this list and Jane's hometown of Scranton isn't either.

Some Canadian Cities with walks (Jane moved to Toronto in the late sixties)

Brant County, Ontario

Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. See complete list here!

And--- the coolest walk so far has got to be a Jane's walk in Mumbai!

Anyway, if nobody else takes this up for 2010, I guess I would guide a tour myself, something I honestly don't think I'd be too qualified to do.

The most fun might be to have several people who know a neighborhood well to guide a walk together with each adding their thoughts and knowledge about an area's history, design and inner logic.


Unknown said...

Sounds like a good idea. How can I help?

Tibi Chelcea said...

There's already something like this, check , they organize tours every month from early spring to late fall. I've participated in quite a few and visited places that otherwise would've not.


Nate C. said...

So glad to find your blog! I'm Nate and I'll be coordinating all of the Jane's Walk in the USA this year.

We are still getting the website revamped for Jane's Walk 2010 and should have it updated in January.

In the mean time, if I can be of any assistance or help answer any questions please feel free and email me.

It would be great to have Pittsburgh on board this year with a few walks!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Nate Currey

Anonymous said...

Hey John,
this is the national jane's walk director in Canada. I love pittsburgh, haven't been able to spend much time there but think it's a brilliant idea - so many amazing old buildings, energetic people... I have tons of resources to share for organizers, and like the american organizers, would be happy to help. email me at:
jane farrow