Green, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, walked from Rockaway Beach, New York to Rockaway Beach, Oregon in 2010, a feat that took five months. His used Chicago – and his brother’s home there – as a midpoint before turning north to go through Fargo, North Dakota on his way to the left coast, camping all along the way.
Now, he is tantalizingly close to completing a second major quest – walking every block of New York City’s five boroughs.
Green, who housesits, pet sits or stays with friends each night to keep expenses down, originally estimated that New York had about 8,000 miles of roads and pathways, more than double the 3,100 miles of his cross-country walk. It turned out to be even more. He has walked about 9,200 miles and has a few hundred left, mostly newly built roads or paths.
The feat has taken him almost eight years – and earned him a feature role in a documentary, “The World Before Your Feet,” that was released in theaters last year and is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Green’s close friend, Jeremy Workman, directed the film after persuading Green to let him tag along with a camera. In his director’s note, Workman, who was the only cameraperson with Green, said the experience changed how he sees the city.
“By walking with Matt, you’re forced to take note of everything around you,” he said. “Matt stops and notices things that I’d routinely miss: historical details, street signs, animal life, plant life, the fabric of the city. I almost felt like I had blinders removed from my eyes.”
That, according to Green, is the beauty of walking. It’s not about completing a quest or getting to a certain destination; it’s about what you see along the way.