Posted by: jjarmasz | January 17, 2011

Look down!

Sidewalk concrete date

Oh if the sidewalks could speak...

I am endlessly fascinated with little details of our built environment, and Toronto has plenty of that. One of the things that catch my attention are the dates on the various concrete slabs that make up our sidewalks. In particular, the older, like this one. It’s not uncommon to see a few going back to the 1970s or even a few from the 1960s, but this must be the only one I have seen from the 50s. It’s on Delaware, just north of Bloor, across from the subway entrance. Given that it’s adjacent to a fairly new church (= recent construction  site), it’s amazing it’s survived this long. In fact there are slabs that date back to as recently as 2004 just next to it.
Other than its age, this slab is only marked “City.” Most (all?) sidewalks seem to have been poured by City of Toronto construction crews until about the mid-to-late 1980s. Then you get what appears like a wholesale switch to contractors. So this sidewalks is also a tiny window into City urban planning & infrastructure policy (plus a record of the hunger for outsourcing and contracting out that has gripped governments for the past 20-25 years…). I like the old “City” sidewalk stamps, they make me think of a city with a powerful public works department keeping the city running smoothly. We could definitely use some more of that nowadays.
So look down! You never know what you’re stepping on.


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