The very word street has a rough, dirty magic to it, summoning up the low, the common, the erotic, the dangerous, the revolutionary. A man of the streets is only a populist, but a woman of the streets is, like a streetwalker, a seller of her sexuality. Street kids are urchins, beggars, and runaways, and the new term street person describes those who have no other home. Street-smart means someone wise in the ways of the city and well able to survive in it, while “to the streets” is the classic cry of urban revolution, for the streets are where people become the public and where their power resides. The street means life in the heady currents of the urban river in which everyone and everything can mingle. It is exactly this social mobility, this lack of compartments and distinctions, that gives the street its danger and its magic, the danger and magic of water in which everything runs together.

Rebecca Solnit, “Wanderlust.”