Walking became an increasingly popular pastime in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Romantic poets and American transcendentalists sung its praises. Hikers argued for the “right to roam” on private land. Walking then began to emerge as a spectacle sport. Pedestrianism, or endurance walking, reigned as America’s most popular spectator sport in the 1870s and 80s. Competitors would march for days, often on special indoor tracks.

This illustration depicts one of pedestrianism’s first celebrities, Foster Powell, who once walked 100 miles in 24 hours along the Bath road in England, in 1787.





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