Thursday, September 21, 2006

Where the Sidewalk Begins

On my walks through Oakland, I’ve been noticing something a lot: It seems that whenever a local contractor pours a new sidewalk, he or she will stamp the company name and the year in the wet cement.

This tradition has survived into the new millennium--I saw a 2001 date on my walk through Haddon Hill today. I also coincidentally saw the oldest date I’ve noticed yet: 1917.

It’s pretty cool (if you’re as uncool as I am, anyway) to think of all the people who have walked across that piece of sidewalk since 1917. I like to think of all the rainstorms it has been through, and all the earthquakes, roller-skate abuse, and chewing-gum incidents it has survived, dating back to the First World War.

I set out on this Oakland walking project thinking it would be the architecture and general neighborhood vibe I would find most interesting. But more and more I find myself looking out for these date stamps in the street. I’ll let you know if I find any older than this one.

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