Urban walks are mapped routes introducing you to a neighbourhood's history and the present, to its nature and culture, public art, architecture as well as prominent people. The aim is to give the walker a comprehensive and engaging image of their urban living environment, right on site.
I have developed the idea and implemented it in collaboration with neighbourhood associations since 2004. Projects that I have lead or assisted in have already produced 70 urban walks, three rural heritage walks and one bike route altogether 364 kilometres of routes. They consist of 1,789 places of interest in Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tuusula, Järvenpää and Riihimäki.
Urban walks have been published online, and altogether 124,500 brochures have been printed. They have been distributed free of charge at information desks, libraries and neighbourhoods events, in some cases sold publicly or even sent directly to new residents at their home. In addition, local newspapers have distributed 193,600 supplements presenting urban walks.
Helps new residents settle in,
strengthens neighbourhood identity
How new residents get to embrace their new living environment is an essential question in all neighbourhoods and smaller municipalities, not just in growth centers, because each year as much as 15 % of the Finnish population changes their place of residence. In addition, the need to integrate immigrants is obvious. This is where urban walks can help.
On the other hand, old residents or school children, for example, can be interested in their neighbourhood. Knowing it is also the cornerstone of local identity. This kind of knowledge accumulates over years and decades among neighbourhood activists and different authorities and it is being shared in many different ways. The key idea here is to assemble this information and make it easily available.
How to urban walks?
The best way to start assembling an urban walk is to form a cross-sectoral team of neighbourhood activists, local authorities and specialists from different fields. I have worked as a project leader and editor with many such teams.
I offer my services in planning and implementing urban walks as an independent consultant. Ultimately, I aspire to help new residents settle in and to further neighbourhood identities from within a relevant organisation.
Pauli Saloranta 12.8.2016
Lace your shoes and start walking!
Routes mostly follow streets and light-traffic lanes, but they do go through an occasional park, as well.
Helsingin kotikaupunkipolut >
Espoon kotikaupunkipolut >
Espoon keskus >
Matinkylä and Olari >
Kuninkaankolmion fillaripolut >
Järvenpään kaupunkipolku >
Riihimäen kotikaupunkipolku >
Concepts similar to urban walks include the home district bicycle routes in Helsinki and the Promenade in Hyvinkää. I have collected links to these in the form of an Urban Hiking portal.
Walks that I have assembled in Tuusula and in Vantaa's Seutula are rural heritage walks in comparison to the urban walks of more densely populated areas. From the request of the Finnish Local Heritage Federation, I also wrote a manual in 2006 for those who assemble local heritage walks. Such walks were first published by the Mäntsälä Society.
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Urban walking tours, lead by a knowledgeable guide. For groups of up to 30 people, duration 13 hours. Suitable for travellers, schools, housing companies and workplaces, among others.
Walking takes you close to the place and makes you part of the landscape. It gives time to observe your surroundings and to get a feel of the terrain.
Walking is easy, safe and healthy. Its immediate health effects can last for up to 48 hours. Even short intervals of walking improve your condition just as much as the corresponding amount of continuous exercise.