Walk #1

20 July 2004
4:35 pm to 5:35 pm
Heads: 41
Tails: 61
Intersections: 62
Ending point: corner of Water Street and Peck Slip
Latitude/longitude: 40:42:29.416N/74:00:7.160W
Distance from home: 0.3256 miles
Literature received: none
Coin: Kentucky quarter (2001 P)

When I go for a walk in my neighborhood, normally I head for the water. My favorite place in New York City is halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge, where the shapes of Manhattan and Brooklyn just seem like intrusions on the Atlantic Ocean. When I headed out my front door clutching a quarter in my right fist, I didn’t expect to end up there, but I flipped a tails and headed right: north up Broadway. I kept going, veered right at the park, and kept heading straight for the bridge. What were the odds of this favored path, my first time out the door?

With just one intersection to go, however, I took an abrupt left, went through the park, and kept going west, making it most of the way to the West Side Highway before taking another left. I couldn’t find a comfortable rhythm flipping the quarter; I dropped it three times. I wasn’t even sure when to flip it: on my way to the next intersection, or only when I had arrived? I ultimately decided to wait until I was at each new intersection, relishing each step I took rather than planning my route. The point of a walk like this was not to know where I’d be going next–even though I often found myself regretting the outcome of a flip.

I soon found myself walking the perimeter of the World Trade Center site, weaving through the crowds. After 34 minutes, I was walking past my front door again. I then went in circles around Fulton Street, through the Southbridge Towers housing project, and ultimately headed towards the South Street Seaport. Again, I veered off to the left before reaching the water. I walked past the post office and as time ran out, I could see a sliver of the East River.