03 May 2021

Exposed Cobblestones Under Asphalt

Exposed sandstone paving blocks on 400 West, after a rainstorm.

Exposed sandstone paving blocks on 400 West, a day after a rainstorm.

You might be an archaeologist if you make your family go with you to take pictures of exposed stone paving block remnants in SLC’s warehouse district.
I noticed these sandstone paving blocks eroding from under a layer of asphalt in the Warehouse District while I was walking the area near the Pickle Co and the Bissinger Hide buildings between 700-800 South and 400 West.

These stones were once located throughout downtown SLC and on South Temple and were used as paving blocks for streets, driveways, curbs, and sidewalks.

They were a beatification effort by SLC and were installed between the 1890s through the 1910s. They were first installed in the downtown business district of SLC and then in other areas as time and resources allowed.

In some areas of downtown the paving stones were torn up from the street and repurposed for crosswalks, which is what I think is happening in image 6.

I’m a bit surprised to see this beatification effort in the Warehouse District of SLC. But because it is located outside the main area of downtown is probably why it still exists (albeit under asphalt) as it has not been subject to extensive road rebuilding projects.

If I recall correctly, the sandstone paving stones on South Temple that were under the asphalt were all removed about 20 years ago when that road was rebuilt and modernized as a concrete road.

I did not find out specifically when these particular paving blocks were installed. They parallel a curving sidewalk that follows an old railroad spur built sometime between 1911-1926. And a SL Trib, July 5 1909, article indicates that curbing, guttering, and water main construction began in this area of SLC (5th Ward) in 1909. So, my guess is that they were installed sometime around 1912, give or take a few years.

Detail of sandstone paving blocks adjacent to concrete walk

Auto on cobblestone street in SLC, 1908. From UDSH.

SLC road construction, 1908. From UDSH.

SLC road construction, 1909. From UDSH.

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