America on Foot

Walking and Pedestrianism in the 20th Century

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About the Book

Hippocrates, one of history’s earliest known physicians, once asserted, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” Over the last three centuries, people have endorsed walking for a variety of reasons—health among them. Before the 1700s, people walked as an essential part of their lifestyle. With the coming of the transportation revolution—and the advent of such conveyances as horse-drawn coaches, railways and automobiles—walking became something that was done increasingly out of choice rather than necessity. England’s fashionable society engaged in afternoon promenades as a stylish fad. While America’s vast distances and sparse settlements made this activity impractical, Americans nevertheless took to walking in other ways, including engaging in long distance walking competitions complete with spectators and prize money. Thus, for most of the twentieth century, the activity of walking was much more than a means of transportation.
Beginning with the history of walking as a social activity, the book discusses the various issues which have affected walkers, including increased automobile traffic, the attention of the marketing industry and pedestrian regulations. The work examines the contemplative, psychological and observational qualities of walking as well as famous personalities—including Leonardo da Vinci, William Shakespeare, John Keats and John James Audubon—who endorsed these intellectual qualifications. During the 1970s fitness boom, walking was reinvented yet again, becoming an activity of numbers and equations as participants fought to maximize health benefits. The book concludes with a legal analysis of pedestrianism as it relates to sharing space with the automobile.

About the Author(s)

Cultural historian Kerry Segrave is the author of dozens of books on such diverse topics as drive-in theaters, lie detectors, jukeboxes, smoking, shoplifting and ticket-scalping. He lives in British Columbia.

Bibliographic Details

Kerry Segrave
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 219
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2559-4
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1082-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. The Years to 1900      3

2. Famous Walkers      13

3. Nobody Walks      25

4. Long Distance Walking      30

5. The Nature of Walking      39

6. Instructing the Masses in How to Walk      48

7. Clubs, Governments, and Images      66

8. Benefits of Walking—Mental and Psychological      78

9. Benefits of Walking—Health and Medical      86

10. Walking Reborn as a Trendy Exercise      98

11. Marketers Target Walking      110

12. Psychological Aspects of Walking      122

13. Walking by the Numbers      130

14. Pedestrians Versus Cars      136

15. Regulating Pedestrians, to 1950      151

16. Regulating Pedestrians, 1950–2005      168

17. Conclusion      181

Notes      185

Bibliography      199

Index      209