One of the best ways to get to know the city is by walking new routes. It's even better if you have a guide to connect those streets to the city's culture and history.
“It wasn’t so long ago that walking was the primary way of getting around. Prior to the 1930s or so, pretty much everyone did it—philosophers, painters, all kinds of old sources,” says NYU Gallatin professor Peder Anker. “That’s really important to understand. To really get at what they were thinking, you have to get out and walk too.”
Anker’s first-year seminar Walking New York City sends students out to far-flung neighborhoods on a series of themed outings that spark engagement with city history, anthropology, literature, and culture.
A trip to Coney Island is paired with readings about the concepts of pleasure and escape. Walking the High Line, students explore the tradition of the “promenade.” A Governor’s Island visit is a springboard for a conversation about the challenges of urban planning. Hunt’s Point in the Bronx provides examples of graffiti as an art form. Walking the length of the Wickquasgeck Trail, students explore the indigenous history of what is now Broadway.
For many who have just moved to New York for the first time, the course also serves as a vital orientation to city transit and geography.