City College sociologist William Helmreich walked all of New York City's 120,000 blocks... and boy are his feet tired. (Sorry.) Actually, his fingers are tired, too, from typing out a 480-page book about his 6,000-mile trek. According to a lively Atlantic Cities profile, he put in the hours over four years, building up to "the distance from New York to L.A. and back, plus another 900 miles, the equivalent of a side jaunt to St. Louis."
He apparently asks his students to stump him by asking about far-flung neighborhoods in outer boroughs, but he knows 'em all. And, oh yes, what the book divulges: "The expansive sociological study relies on Helmreich's on-the-ground research, culled from thousands of hours of observation and casual conversations with local residents, to help parse hot-button issues like immigration, assimilation, and gentrification." Sounds like that walking paid off in intel (and insight), and all it cost him was nine pairs of shoes.
· The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City [Amazon]
· One Sociologist's Epic Quest: Walk New York City, All 120,000 Blocks [Atlantic Cities]