Jane Jacobs walk!

Often, we go about our lives busy moving to and from our destinations without being able to reflect on why we enjoy or dread being in certain parts of our cities. Though I had been to many curated walks in Chennai, I was curious about how this walk would be and registered myself immediately seeing the invite.

jane-jacobsPhoto credits: Arch Daily

As a tribute to Jane Jacob’s life and legacy, community walks are organized around the time of Jane’s birthday in early May. Jane Jacob is a journalist, author and Urban theorist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building and planning.

Jane Jacobs walk commenced for the first time in Chennai- India and also for the first time in a place other than US and is organized by the Urban Design collective which is a Non –Profit organization based in Chennai.

The walk was planned around George Town, Chennai and began from Beach station with an introductory session about Jane Jacobs and her contributions. We were divided into two groups and made to stand in two lines facing each other. People in one line were made to stand and the people in the other line were asked to keep moving along with introducing themselves – I found that the methods used were quite innovative!

The cops were getting a bit restless as to see a gathering in front of the beach railway police station for a long time and yelled at us to move out

The trail:

View Jane Jacobs Walk in Chennai in a larger map

We started walking out of the station with a small note about the Beach Station and walked across Rajaji Salai where Mr. A. J.Yorke, Director of Parry & Co drove the first car in Chennai – Clicking pictures of the beautiful historic buildings and listening to their history and about their structural constructions was a delight.

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We visited a lot of places like Maadi Poonga, Armenian church, Dare house, SBI Local Head Office among other places.

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The walk was actually planned for three hours from 8 am to 11 am. But due to the harsh rays of the summer sun, people were drenched in sweat and tired thus extending the walk till 1 pm. I am sure the organizers had done their home work ensuring that they had their toes on top of all the possible questions by the participants. I believe that this experience was a good one to the organizers as well.

Well, I returned home rich in knowledge and the satisfaction of having had an awesome Sunday!

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