Cover image for The last great walk : the true story of a 1909 walk from New York to San Francisco, and why it matters today
The last great walk : the true story of a 1909 walk from New York to San Francisco, and why it matters today
Curtis, Wayne.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Emmaus, Pennsylvania : Rodale, [2014]
Physical Description:
xix, 236 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
"Distributed to the trade by Macmillan"--Copyright p.
Part 1. Body. Leaving New York -- Upright bearing -- I sit, therefore I am -- Part 2. Mind. Braincases -- Knowing where you are -- Part 3. Land. The geography of walking -- Does my city make me look fat? -- Learning from San Francisco.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library GV1072.W47 C87 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Crane Branch Library GV1072.W47 C87 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Dudley Branch Library GV1072.W47 C87 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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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, mosquitos, vicious headwinds, and brutal heat. He was 70 years old.

In 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 American 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 identity.
Not walking, he argues, may be one of the most radical things humans have ever done.

Author Notes

Wayne Curtis is a contributing editor at The Atlantic magazine. He's also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, and This American Life . The author of And a Bottle of Rum, Curtis was named Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year in 2002. He lives in New Orleans.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Curtis (And a Bottle of Rum) uses the story of Edward Payson Weston's trek across America in 1909 at the age of 70 as a jumping off point for musings on the lost art of walking, specifically how we choose to get around and what's lost in service of faster modes of transit. While Weston's 104-day journey is not particularly riveting, it serves as an anchor as the author explores peripheral topics like evolutionary theory on how and why our hominid ancestors first walked upright, the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, and innovative crosswalk technology. Curtis presents Weston's walk as the end of an era, or rather the beginning of "the big bang of American transportation" and the battle for space in the streets between motorist and pedestrian. He then more optimistically points to recent efforts to increase "walkability" in cities, centered around the community-building aspect of pedestrianism. With a few tangential exceptions, Curtis's meandering approach to his subject matter works out, aided by his sense of humor and Weston's own unique brand of quirky belligerence. Agent: Jennifer Gates, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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