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This is the Savvy Traveler, I'm Rudy Maxa. John Steinbeck once wrote that American cities "are like badger holes-ringed with trash (all of them), surrounded by piles of wrecked and rusting automobiles, and almost smothered with rubbish." Well, either John visited the wrong cities or we've made big strides since then.

I'm a city guy. For most of my career, I've walked to and from work-the same 15 blocks since 1971 when I began at the Washington Post as a cub reporter. I've watched those blocks change drastically, and I can tell you dramatic stories about the personal lives of the street's merchants and restaurateurs. Some went bust, some got rich, some went to jail trying to get rich the wrong way. I've passed almost every politician of note in the last 30 years walking up and down that street called Connecticut Avenue.

The Presidents, well, they speed by in motorcades behind the tinted windows of armored limos. But a block from my house, John Hinkley managed to wound Ronald Reagan as he got out of his limo to enter the Washington Hilton. Today, there's a protective tunnel White House vehicles enter when VIPS arrive there. Every building on my route tells a story.

In a moment, we're going to hear from a man who's set out to walk the mother of all cities.


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