The annual Jane’s Walk Weekend is just around the corner! On Saturday, May 5th, and Sunday, May 6th, hundreds of free walking tours will take place in cities around the world. We were going to try to round up the best walks for people interested in Placemaking but, perhaps unsurprisingly given that Jane was the doyenne of human-scaled urbanism, it’s pretty much impossible to find a tour that isn’t great in that regard. Instead, we sifted through all of the listings to find some of the most original and offbeat tours on the roster.
We highly encourage you to visit the two main websites with listings of walks around the world, JaneJacobsWalk.org and JanesWalk.net, to see what’s going on in your city or town, whether it involves unicycles and ugly houses, or a good old fashioned exploration of the history, people, and architecture of a unique place.
City of Labyrinths Project (Toronto, Ontario)
Toronto, where Jane lived during the latter half of her life, will be the setting for more walks than any other city during the weekend; still, several stand out. This walk ont he 5th, organized by a group that aims “to place a semi-permanent labyrinth within walking distance of every Torontonian,” celebrates the city’s existing sidewalk mazes, and explores the history of labyrinth design.
Cityscape/Soundscape (Toronto, Ontario)
Most walking tours tend to rely more on what we see than what we hear, but Toronto will play host to a “soundwalk” on the 5th. This tour will “show how Toronto’s diverse downtown spaces can be distinguished by their own characteristic soundscapes.” Sounds cool enough already, but take a look at the photo–it seems this walk will even include blindfolds to heighten your hearing!
Food Foraging (Flesherton, Ontario)
For a thoroughly rural ramble (say that five times fast), head to Flesherton on the 6th to learn all about what can and can’t be eaten during a walk in the woods. Organizer David Turner “will also point out plants, roots, barks and leaves that can be used for tinctures, salves and teas.”
IRUBNY Celebrates Gramercy Park (New York, New York)
Artist Carol Caputo will lead participants in New York on a walk around Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood on the 5th, armed with paper and crayons to create rubbings of the architectural details that define this historic district.
Levee Disaster Bike Tour (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Led by an organization lobbying for safer levees to protect New Orleans (sad that we even need sustained advocacy for that), this bike tour on the 6th will visit the sites of two levee breaches that flooded the Crescent City shortly after Hurricane Katrina blew through town.
Not a Cakewalk (Toronto, Ontario)
There are a number of food-related tours scheduled during the weekend, but only one will focus specifically on the design of bakeries, and “illuminates the relationship between emotions and desire with architecture.” The walk will take place in Toronto’s West End neighborhood on the 5th.
Seersucker Ride (Sacramento, California)
If you’re the kind of person who regrets not being born during the Victorian Era, you’re in luck! On the 6th, the group Sacramento Tweed will lead an olde-fashioned bike tour of the historic city core “that encourages period dress and a more relaxed style of riding.”
Silent Midnight Walk (Regina, Saskatchewan)
If the Cityscape/Soundscape walk in Toronto sounded fun but a bit too easterly, you can experience another soundwalk in Regina on the evening of the 5th. During this one-hour traipse, “participants may choose to practice walking meditation or to simply allow their senses to take over.” Tranquil or spooky, depending on your perspective, it certainly sounds like an interesting experience!
Ugly Houses (Karlskrona, Sweden)
There’s not much information available about this walk on the website, but the title suggests that, if you happen to be in Karlskrona on the 6th, this walk has potential to be very entertaining!
Unicycling for Change (Bozeman, Montana)
While Jane’s Walk Weekend will feature several biking tours, we only found one that will be conducted via unicycle! If you’re a fan of transportation of the one-wheeled variety, head out to Montana on the 5th to help promote the cause! (Don’t worry, the route includes several breaks for weary legs).
All Photos: JaneJacobsWalk.org