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A distinguished sociologist who visited nearly every street in New York City's five boroughs — on foot — has died from the coronavirus.
The disease claimed William Helmreich, a 74-year-old professor of sociology at CUNY, Saturday at his home in Great Neck, Long Island, according to reports.
“Willy — as everyone knew him — was an expansive writer and analyst, covering topics as varied as immigration, life inside yeshivas and the formation of stereotypes,” CCNY president Vince Boudreau said in a letter to students and faculty.
“He will, however, almost certainly be most fondly remembered for a joyful series of recent books, chronicling his efforts to walk all the streets of New York, and report on what he saw and heard,” he said.
Sociologist William Helmreich. (CCNY Office of Institutional Advancement and Communications)
Boudreau said few were aware Helmreich had contracted the coronavirus.
“This virus is profoundly dangerous,” Boudreau said. “Do not lower your guard. Do not confuse recklessness with bravery. Do not believe that we are, any of us, made safe by anything except vigilance and care.”
“I love the city,” Helmreich told the New Yorker in a 2013 profile under the headline “Walker in the City.” “I love to read about the city, to live the city, to walk the city.”
Helmreich figured he walked 120,000 New York City blocks, or 6,000 miles, in all kinds of weather .