Saturday, September 6, 2014

Red Brick Roads

When I moved to Tipton 45 years ago, there were still several streets in town that were paved with brick.  Eventually they were all removed and paved with modern macadam technique, with the exception of a couple of short less-traveled sections which were simply paved over.  I turned down one of these short stretches on my bicycle and noted that winter ravages, summer storms, increased twenty-first century traffic have dug a hole in the tarmac, exposing brick beneath.

The first brick paving in Tipton was laid along two and one-half blocks of Jefferson Street in 1890.  This brick was common building brick, yet it survived the rigors of traffic for nearly a quarter century before it was replaced in 1914 with vitrified brick.  At that time, twelve miles of Tipton streets were paved with these bricks.  This allowed Tipton to boast the largest number of  "feet per capita" of any city in Indiana.*

I have a few of the brick pavers which were lifted from the streets of Tipton in the 1990s.  These bricks are quite attractive, and imagine if you can the thousands of wheels that rolled across this bit of history.

*Pershing, Marvin W. History of Tipton County, Indiana: Her People, Industries and Institutions, 1914

This is post number 1900 on String Too Short to Tie.  That works out to 26.9 posts per month over the life of the blog, or a post on 90% of the available days.  Conclusion:  This is not quite a daily blog.


Jim Grey said...

Brick lurks beneath the asphalt on the oldest streets in many cities and towns. My hometown still has many brick side streets -- it's not clear why the city never paved them over.

Vee said...

Brick certainly makes durable streets. While on a walking tour of downtown Indianapolis, I saw several brick streets that had been uncovered as part of the downtown restoration project. Really beautiful.

Heaven forbid that we should have to feel the unevenness of bricks beneath our wheels. (And think about all of the jobs paving our streets has created over the years - filling pot holes every year, resurfacing on a regular basis, and the production of black gunk.)

Lin said...

Funny how the "improved" roads fall apart and the bricks remain. Thank goodness the bricks are under there!

Grace said...

Yes but very slippery when wet...I wonder if brick roads, as bumpy as they may be, are less bumpy than cobblestone roads...In Old Town, VA, part of Princess Street is still cobblestoned dating back to 1790, the work done by Hessian soldiers. One doesn't exactly drive on this portion of Princess Street - one simply coasts - thankfully it is downhill.

Secondary Roads said...

It wasn't the winter weather's fault,
It wasn't the summer weather's fault,
It wasn't the traffic's fault,
It was the ash fault.

Just for the record.

vanilla said...

Jim, at the turn of the 20th century, brick saved a lot of people from a lot of mud. But you are the road expert, so I can't tell you a lot about that!

Vee, road maintenance provides lots of jobs, and eats up a lot of tax money!

Lin, seems the brick does make a good foundation for a lot of streets.

Grace, I think brick roads are smoother than cobblestone. I've driven very little on cobblestone, but enough to make me grateful for macadam.

Chuck, you made your point very well--asphalt pavement is subject to potholing. And does it a lot.

Sharkbytes said...

I love those bricks with designs. Don't think I've ever seen pavement done with anything but ordinary brick.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, city preserved the "look" by using these pavers to make a border between the curb and the sidewalk in our downtown area.

Secondary Roads said...

I intentionally misspelled the word lest it seem impolite.

vanilla said...

Chuck, we communicate very well. I knew what you did there.