Initially, cities were designed for walking. Sidewalks were built to connect the residential with the retail and occupational. Terre Haute, Indiana created and maintained 247 miles of sidewalks in the 1920s. Local drug store advertisements during that time featured numerous products to soothe the feet. I especially love the name of a firm once located on the 1200 block of South Wabash in Chicago: Fairyfoot. Perhaps all of their employees walked to work.
I also want to mention the importance of street trees. The mature ones that have somehow survived the pollutants of passing cars cast a welcome shade for the pedestrian. And this surely does make a difference in a bright sun. On the Indiana University campus, which still favors an aimless stroll, you’ll occasionally see students carrying an umbrella on a cloudless summer day. Back when walking was a necessity as well as a pleasure, these were marketed separately as parasols – lighter fabric and lighter weight to prevent a perspiring woman. Sadly, this accessory never became gender neutral. Men were left with linen handkerchiefs to wipe their foreheads and hatbands. Then, women would generally wind up having to launder them.