March 1 Update

(So sorry this is late!)

March 1: ten months of walking Cambridge!

I’ve now walked 823 streets out of 850 (up from 757 on 2/1), which is 97% of Cambridge (up from 90% on 2/1).

The breakdown:

— 98% of 02138 (93% on Feb 1)

— 98% of 02139 (90% on Feb 1)

— 93% of 02140 (76% on Feb 1)

— Still 100%* of 02141

— Still 100%* of 02142

*Close enough, thanks to some construction.

Wow, I am so close!!! This month’s walks were easy to identify and plan since there are so few left. I liked the idea of wrapping up one zip code at a time, but my remaining walks happen to span multiple zip codes, so the last three will be finished kind of all at once.

This month, I contacted the press about the project. I realized I should have done that months ago to have followers all along! I also contacted Cambridge City Council to invite them to walk the final stretch with me, an invitation I planned last summer, so early in the process. That will happen sometime in March! I’m so excited for that walk, the celebration, and seeing the framed map on my wall, but I am absolutely not ready to end this project.

I could write more, but I’m aware that the article just dropped and I’m eager to read it! Check it out!!

What’s left is:

-The Agassiz walk and the Neighborhood Nine walk (which I’ll likely do together)

-The Oops “walk” in which I drive around, double park, and walk tiny stretches I missed

-The Grand Finale in Central Square!

I can’t believe that’s it!


The Home Stretch

After nine months of long walks, short walks, blue marker, and Instagram posts, I have walked 93% of Cambridge. It’s strange to think that I’ll be done soon and will have to use different criteria to plan my recreational walks! I did the NW Cambridge walk that I saved to do with a friend who lives there. I got the Hubbard St. “Oops.” I put off Agassiz as long as I could.

To make sure I cover everything I need to cover, I have divided my remaining turf into eight walks. Some of these will be doubled up, and the nature of the “Oops” walk means it could be further divided, but for the sake of organization, here they are:

A neighborhood I avoided because it reminds me too much of my stressful grad school days at Lesley! Although Crescent St. will be a nice reminder of School of HONK Halloween parades past. I’ve also put this one off because there’s no way to do a loop. It’ll be a “weave,” since Mass Ave and Oxford St. are both done, so it’ll be a long walk back to the beginning. Yes yes, I know, the point is doing long walks. But this layout still deterred me!

  • Prentiss Street 02140
  • Crescent Street 02138
  • Sacramento Place 02138
  • Sacramento Street 02138
  • Wendell Street 02138
  • Exeter Park 02140
  • Forest Street 02140
  • Frost Street 02140
  • Frost Terrace 02140
  • Newport Road 02140

Neighborhood Nine
I promise I won’t stalk Elizabeth Warren! I will keep an eye out for her dog, though.

  • Agassiz Street 02140
  • Avon Place 02140
  • Bates Street 02140
  • Humboldt Street 02140
  • Lancaster Street 02140
  • Walnut Avenue 02140
  • Washington Avenue 02140

The biggest “bang for buck” walk that’s left in terms of numbers of streets!

  • Banks Street 02138
  • Elmer Street 02138
  • Hingham Street 02138
  • Ballord Place 02139
  • Bancroft Street 02139
  • Blackstone Street 02139
  • Callender Street 02139
  • Dodge Street 02139
  • Gilmore Street 02139
  • Hews Street 02139
  • Putnam Avenue 02139
  • Riverside Place 02139
  • Western Avenue 02139

Not all of these are near Alewife, but the walk includes Alewife Brook Parkway. I’ll make a final decision on how much of Route 2 I want to include.

  • Alewife Brook Pkwy 02138
  • Concord Avenue 02138
  • Concord Lane 02138
  • Fawcett Street 02138
  • Granville Road 02138
  • Saville Street 02138
  • Terminal Road 02138
  • Wheeler Street 02138
  • Alewife Brook Pkwy 02140

These are streets I walked one hot summer night, and later decided that walks after dark didn’t count. However, I had to reverse that rule in November when walks before dark were mostly impossible. I could go either way on these (count or redo), but have a few bonus streets I added to this walk anyway since they’re nearby, so I might as well trod them all again.

  • Allen Street 02140
  • Beech Street 02140
  • Blake Street 02140
  • Davenport Street 02140
  • Elm Street 02140
  • Miller Avenue 02140
  • Orchard Street 02140
  • Porter Circle 02140 (not redo)
  • Porter Park 02140 (not redo)
  • Porter Road 02140 (not redo)
  • Saginaw Avenue 02140
  • Tenney Street 02140
  • Creighton Street 02140 (not redo)
  • Hadley Street 02140 (not redo)

These streets were not on any of my lists nor are they on my map. However, Google Maps shows them clear as day.

  • Brickworks Driveway
  • Clifton Circle
  • Clifton Place
  • Jackson Circle 02140
  • Jackson Place 02140
  • Jackson Street 02140
  • Jefferson Park 02140

Most of this walk is strictly “oops,” i.e. careless mistakes in the field that result in an 1/8 inch of a map road being bare. Since these areas are all over the place, this “walk” will be mostly a drive, making many stops. Honorary, non-oops members of this walk include (1) places where a road was impassable due to construction many months ago but may be all set now; (2) roads I must have done but probably forgot to log (or remove if they don’t exist), just in case; (3) roads that border other towns where I thought I went far enough but may not have.

  • Muller Avenue 02140 (Oops)
  • Rice Circle 02140 (Thought I did it)
  • Morgan Ave (Construction)
  • Water Street 02141 (Construction)
  • Deacon Street 02142 (Construction)
  • Dock Street 02142 (Construction)
  • Hayward Street 02142 (Construction)
  • Camden Place 02138 (Thought I did it)
  • Coolidge Avenue 02138 (Did I go far enough?)
  • Flanders Rd. (Does it exist?)
  • Garden Court 02138 (Does it exist?)
  • Greenough Boulevard 02138 (Did I go far enough?)
  • Harold Place 02139 (Does it exist?)
  • Princeton Avenue 02139 (Oops)
  • Alewife Center 02140 (Does it exist?)

The Grand Finale
Pretty early on, I had the idea to invite the Cambridge City Council to complete the final walk with me. Maybe Mayor Siddiqui will even sign my map. I had this idea too late to save the bit of Mass Ave directly in front of City Hall for them, but saved the closest available chunk I had at the moment for the final pavement-beating of this project. Even if they don’t accept my invitation, ending at City Hall will feel momentous.

  • Soden Place 02139
  • Soden Street 02139
  • Western Avenue 02139

I’ll admit that I find the proximity to completion incredibly exciting; that wrapping up my Pandemic Project is mere days away. I’ll save the true sentimentality for my final write-up, but I’ll allow my excitement to bubble through. I can’t relax yet though, there are still some calls to make. Even though the remaining streets are nicely divided into eight walks, the spreadsheet is still complicated. Google thinks it’s “St. John’s St.” Fitbit thinks it’s “St. John’s St. Extension.” Which is it? Does the Somerville Elm St. go into Cambridge, too? There are several examples of questions and discrepancies like this whose verdicts I put off until the end. Well, it’s the end. Time to examine a few more maps!

P.S. The map was in danger of ripping entirely into several pieces, so I did some surgery over the weekend, patching holes and scotch-taping seams. It doesn’t fold so well, but it’ll stay together for as long as it has to!

February 1 Update

February 1: nine months of walking Cambridge!

I’ve now walked 757 streets out of 844 (up from 701 on 12/1), which is 90% of Cambridge (up from 82% on 12/1).

The breakdown:

— 93% of 02138 (81% on Dec 1)

— 90% of 02139 (87% on Dec 1)

— 76% of 02140 (63% on Dec 1)

— Still 100%* of 02141

— Still 100%* of 02142

*Close enough, thanks to some construction.

These changes are just from six walks in January, since I was away for most of December, but I wanted to do one more update before finishing.

This month I also did an “audit” of my list to remove outstanding streets that no longer existed. This reduced the total number of streets by about 15 which helped my percentages!

I am definitely inching towards the finish line, and with the upcoming February vacation bet I can finish before the anniversary of lockdown!

There’s also something poetic about finishing as I get ready to (most likely) end my time as a Cambridge resident. Just as I was getting to know my way around! We’ll call this a send-off.

The other exciting piece of news is that I’m finally launching my blog about this, Sophie Strollin’ Streetblocks! (See what I did there?) Read even more about this project at ! (Haha if you’re reading this here you’re already here!)

See the data yourself here:

December 1 Update

December 1: seven months of walking Cambridge!

Once the school year started, it became harder to walk frequently, resulting in only 13 walks in September, October, and November combined. I’ve now walked 701 streets out of 858 (up from 517 on 9/1), which is a solid 82% of Cambridge (up from 60% on 9/1).

The breakdown:

— 81% of 02138 (50% on Sept 1)

— 87% of 02139 (78% on Sept 1)

— 63% of 02140 (28% on Sept 1)

— Still 100%* of 02141

— Still 100%* of 02142

*Close enough, thanks to some construction.

I finished Mass Ave!

As you can see, the new territory in this chunk of time brought me north and west, to parts of Cambridge I didn’t know before. On election night, I went for a brisk walk just south of Harvard Square to center myself before watching the news. It was on this walk that I decided to abandon the “walks after dark don’t count” rule (because the day-lit hours are short now). Peering inside people’s warm homes will be the new thing to look for, after the gardens of the summer and Halloween decorations of the fall.

On that walk, I also got an escort down Bennett Ally. This is the “road” where the MBTA buses turn around before going head-first into the tunnel on Mt. Auburn St. It was very clearly not an option to just stroll down, so I asked permission. The friendly, classic Boston MBTA guy said no way but offered to walk with me. Nice and easy! He was *so* interested in my project (not).

Another September project was starting my blog! However, after a strong start, I had to focus my attention elsewhere (I guess work is important) and haven’t launched it yet. It’s second on the list for December projects!

Having passed 700 streets, I am definitely in the home stretch. If I can’t isolate and go away for winter break, I don’t see why I can’t finish by New Year’s Day. If I can, we’ll just have to see! I am super proud of all the gaps filled in with blue, and of how the map gets more ragged every picture. This will be a relic of the pandemic, for sure!

September 1 Update

September 1: “three months” (two months and three random weeks) of walking Cambridge! This “month’s” data combines the first two weeks of July and the last week of August, since I left town in the middle.

I’ve now walked 517 streets out of 861 (up from 343 on 7/1), which is a solid 60%.

The breakdown:
— 50% of 02138 (3% on June 1, 30% on July 1)
— 78% of 02139 (44% on June 1, 64% on July 1)
— 28% of 02140 (0% on June 1, 2% on July 1)
— 100%* of 02141 (55% on June 1, 83% on July 1)
— 100%* of 02142 (21% on June 1, 62% on July 1)

*Close enough, thanks to some construction.

Leaving town was a huge disruption to my project, of course, but it left me super motivated for the second half! This month featured more adventures in the Western half of Cambridge. I also finished East Cambridge, including having to draw in the most NE streets since they weren’t even on the map!

You can see how the map has aged due to excessive folding/carrying and a run-in with my leaky water bottle!

I hope you like this project, because I’m about to launch a blog about it! And if you’re wondering, I definitely didn’t loiter near Elizabeth Warren’s house until her husband and dog showed up and I asked him where a tiny street was…

July 1 Update

July 1: two months of walking Cambridge! I’ve now walked 343* streets out of 859, which is about 40%. (Note, expand pics for all the glory!)

The breakdown:
— 30% of 02138 (3% on June 1)
— 64% of 02139 (44% on June 1)
— 2% of 02140 (0% on June 1)
— 83% of 02141 (55% on June 1)
— 62% of 02142 (21% on June 1)

My records were getting confusing, since my territory exceeded one marked-up screenshot, so I switched to a paper map! This one was a gift from Paul and Charlo. Crazy how much East Cambridge has changed! I’m going to have to draw on some of my remaining streets.

*May’s percentages were generous because I counted both complete streets and partial streets as one. For June, partial streets count as 0.5. So the total street count is higher, since 343 includes many half-point partial streets.

Cambridge’s changing streets are a fun mystery! No two paper or electronic maps or lists agree on the streets. So I can submit an accurate list to the City of Cambridge when this is done!

Thanks for the company, those who have come along!

Rules and Routines

Here are some of the self-imposed rules that I established for consistency’s sake, anecdotally annotated.

1. No walking after dark.

I established this rule after a walk in early July that took place mostly after the sun set. The point of this is to look around and admire gardens, architecture, pets, Cambridge bunnies, decor, etc. so if I can’t see it, can I truly count a street? After declaring this rule, I denoted the streets on that walk that I needed to revisit in light.

However, I lifted that rule in November. It’s a lot easier to ensure daylight while on vacation in the summer than while working in the winter. On a lovely walk near Harvard Square on election night I decided to lift the rule, both for logistical ease and because the houses and streets had something new to offer this time of year: light! Beautiful stained glass windows. Holiday lights. Solar lights in the garden.

2. No listening to anything or talking on the phone while walking.

Because it’s distracting! I want to focus on the sites, and found if I was on the phone or listening to news or a podcast I wouldn’t look around enough. I did count the streets I did under this influence, however, before declaring the rule. I also made an exception to listen to the news on my election night walk.

3. Friends can come along as long as….

They aren’t too distracting! I do feel like the walks I took with company are less lodged in my memory due to the distraction of conversation, but it’s also nice to share the experience with somebody. The friends who came along knew the drill, with the weird navigation guidelines and cool stuff to look out for, and have been overwhelmingly a boon.

There was one walk, though, where my companion and I got into a heated argument about white fragility/privilege and I took in nothing at all. Luckily that was the same July walk that I didn’t count due to darkness so I’ll replace that stretch anyway.

4. Visual completion of a street counts

One of the FAQs from walking companions is about if we have to walk all the way to the end of each tiny, dead-end side street. The answer is no. The point is to see everything, so if we’ve reached a point where we can see everything down there, we can turn around. But if there’s anything obstructing our view, we need to investigate. But I would never bail more than 20 feet away from the end of the street.

5. One side of a street is sufficient

I had a moment of horror early on when I realized that in order to be fully thorough, I’d need to walk BOTH sides of every street. I soon dismissed that idea (it’s nice to be in charge of making the rules!) and just vowed to make sure I looked at both sides. If I know I need to back-track on a street, I will intentionally focus on one side at a time.

5. Dangerous roads require a sidewalk to count

I wasn’t thrilled to see “State Route 2/Concord Turnpike” on my list of streets, since it’s the highway. Naturally, I decided to not pursue that. I did end up over at that “Vox” building right off Route 2 delivering school supplies and walked back to the car near Alewife, and technically that stretch of sidewalk counts as Route 2. But since it’s the only stretch with a sidewalk (that I’m aware of), it’s enough to count the whole street.

June 1 Update

May 1 to June 1: one month of tracking my walks. I’ve at least started:

— 3% of 02138
— 44% of 02139
— 0% of 02140
— 55% of 02141
— 21% of 02142

Percentage = streets touched/total streets in each zip.

It’s been a fun challenge to cover new territory and a delight to discover quaint side streets and beautiful gardens! Soon I’m going to have to start biking to new parts of town.

Note: I’m keeping track of Cambridge streets. Data for Somerville coming next month, maybe. Also, these numbers aren’t perfect because my list of streets doesn’t match Google Maps, oops!