According to cultural theorist De Certeau, walking is the key ‘tactical practice’. In other words, walking is the most effective tactic that allows one to understand a city. He views walking as being conducive to opportunities for learning. Flanerie is the act of occupying urban space by strolling effortlessly and observing the built environment.
Each city dweller has a connection to a place through an experience that is entirely their own. The lived culture of the urban street cannot be understood without seeing it first-hand. A place is ultimately distinguished by its history, culture, social practices, and other elements that cannot be replicated.
Walking the city is crucial to immersion because it provides an indispensable interactive experience, giving the walker autonomy to wander as opposed to only paying attention to established routes. This experiential knowledge contributes to forming emotional attachments with our surroundings. Cities play a role in the formation of identities and the way various cultures are experienced. Within the spaces of the urban landscape, individual and collective identities are created.
Camden Town is a central London district that embodies Michel de Certeau’s theme of using space as an act of defiance. It is a microcosm of alternative culture and resistance, as evidenced by the various groups that occupy its streets to sell or purchase items that reflect individuality. It encapsulates freedom of self-expression and the metropolitan lifestyle, promising art, culture, vibrancy, and spontaneity. The street performers, old structures, and market place make this location a unique and nostalgic experience. This area of London is particularly intriguing for its lack of conformity and the numerous cultures and personalities represented. The market place also mirrors Walter Benjamin’s interest in the impact of industrialization on art, illustrated by the retail, tourism, and entertainment. Navigating the streets of Camden has allowed me to explore an edgier side of London. The vibrant atmosphere almost makes it seem like a separate city. It would be almost impossible to comprehend this scene without looking around and seeing the eclectic range of merchandise in person. Camden gives the impression of independence and mystery because it appears to be socially divided from the rest of London. The market place near the stables exudes secrecy, especially when one is confronted with punk or gothic culture, associations with illegal substances, the nightlife, and bargaining. The main factor that sets Camden apart is that creativity is never stifled. Both the assembly of different groups and the manipulation of space give urbanites the means to overcome social oppression within the mapped city.
Walking the city leaves a lasting impression on the individual because spending time alongside city dwellers as they go about their daily routine, as well as watching societal change unfold over time helps shape new perspectives. The identity struggle among urbanites is observable in the way they utilize space as a form of resistance against the mapped city. Getting lost and encountering obscure buildings and structures may be advantageous in regards to understanding the true nature of the city because it uncovers layers of social meaning. It is by exploring the city on foot that one will stumble upon public events and places where history that is specific to the city occurred. These are the things that contribute to the identity of the city and the attitudes of its citizens. Once one is able to grasp the identity of the city through personal experience, he has achieved a thorough understanding of his surroundings.