I was reading recently about Matt Green, who has a project to walk every single street in New York. All told, and including walking some other pedestrian routes in the city, he thinks that this will total around 12,000 kilometres of walking. I’d looked at this project a few years ago, but I was reminded about it by a film which was recently released about Green, entitled “I’m just walkin'”.
Green writes about his project:
“In many ways, this is an exhaustive approach to getting to know a place. By the time I’m finished, I’ll have seen as much of New York as anyone ever has. And yet, the sum total of my experiences over these thousands of miles will be just a tiny speck, imperceptible against the immensity of this city.
What kind of truth can I hope to find? Every step I take will be deeply colored by many transient factors — the weather, the time of day, my mood, the people around me. I could go back to any given spot the next day and have an entirely different experience. Who knows how many fascinating things I’ll totally overlook? Maybe I’ll be facing the other way as I pass by, or maybe the fascination lies in some story or context that I won’t be aware of. There are countless indoor spaces that I’ll never see. My walking experience will be largely confined to street level, even though much of what makes New York New York exists above the first floor.
If you try to make this quest into a conquest — an attempt to subjugate the bewildering vastness of this metropolis beneath the well-worn heels of my boots — then perhaps it seems dispiriting to contemplate how little of the city I’ll have actually seen and experienced after my extensive journey. But why would you ever want to know a place completely? The excitement of New York, and the whole world for that matter, is that there’s always something else to see, and something else to learn, no matter how long you’ve been around. To me it is profoundly encouraging to think how many secrets will still lie undiscovered after I’ve walked every last one of these goddamned streets. At its core, my walk is an oxymoron: an exhaustive journey through an inexhaustible city.”
And, I like this as a project, the always seeing something new. So, not wanting to miss out on this transcendental experience, I’ve decided to do the same for Norwich. Not the being followed by a film crew bit, since I can’t imagine even the media giants of Look East would want to follow this rubbish, but simply completing a walking project which aims to enable me to see as much of Norwich as anyone else has.
Most historians of Norfolk will be aware of the photographs by George Plunkett, an amazing archive of photos that he took over many decades. This has meant that I have an additional angle to look at my meanderings from, as he has photographed many of the locations where I’ll eventually be walking.
By my estimation, starting as I am in August 2019, I’ll either finish this little project by the end of 2020 or I’ll have got bored of it and so there will be an incomplete set of streets listed. I’ll be surprised though if I don’t find out a lot more about Norwich and it history, which can only be an exciting thing…..