For about three years I’ve been doing a series called Streets of Glasgow, which involves a psychogeographic walk along a street in the city I call home. 81 streets have featured so far and they tend to be popular posts, which is cool. My process is generally to walk along the street, paying close attention to what interests me, what I hear, see, smell, taking pictures along the way. Sometimes I do research, sometimes not. I have done many of the walks on the spur of the moment, which I prefer, really, with the longer walks invariably involving planning. Some of the streets have changed since I wrote the post about it – Cathedral Street, for example, which has seen extensive redevelopment with new college and university buildings having sprung up. Businesses have closed and opened, plus of course there’s been a global pandemic with all that has entailed. I’m hoping to do more Streets walks when the current restrictions change, hopefully in the spring. I have done walks in all seasons though spring is the best season to walk in, as there is more light and trees and flowers coming into bloom.
The longest walks have generally been my favourites, though I particularly liked Govan Road and Miller Street, which I did on the same day, if memory serves. Cumberland Street was another highlight, due to the statues. Any street with statues or art tends to be a winner, like Mitchell Street early one morning to kill time before a train. Alexandra Parade was an interesting one too. Some of the walks have taken me into unfamiliar territory, particularly in the East End like Alexandra Parade, London Road and Duke Street, which are varied in all sorts of ways.
Every so often I make a list of streets I’ve still to do and they are spread right across the city, usually the longer roads that lead out, like Edinburgh Road, Dumbarton Road and Maryhill Road. A lot of us have become more aware of our local authority boundaries lately though in planning a long walk I usually have to find where some of those roads cross a boundary into another council area, since this is a Glasgow series after all. Great Western Road continues into West Dunbartonshire and then up the A82 right up to Inverness. I started the Paisley Road West walk right by the boundary with Renfrewshire, which cuts across the road diagonally. Google Street View is useful, as is figuring out how to get to or from wherever the boundary is.
In doing some of the walks this past summer, I often thought about how Covid and the Black Lives Matter movement have changed how our streets are, the perception of their past and the reality of the present. Glasgow is a city with a complicated past and exploring it in the present necessitates dealing with that past in some way. I often bring an outsider’s perspective, having grown up in the east of Scotland, which means usually I learn something new, either on the walk or after when I do some more reading.
I never stop learning about Glasgow. I still go to new places, most recently the Aldi car park which sits above the shop and Paisley Road West, and that’s pretty decent. I’ve lived in Glasgow for nearly eight years and walking its streets helps me figure it out, though I reckon I’m a long way from completing that particular process.
Incidentally, a full list of the Street of Glasgow walks, all 81 of them, can be found on the Streets of Glasgow page. Please also feel free to share any suggestions for when it is possible to do some more.