Obsessing about sidewalk stamps

Spacing publisher Matthew Blackett has some serious infrastructure fetishes. He wrote about his obsession with sidewalk stamps in Spacing’s first issue and has continued to seek out the oldest dated sidewalk in the city. There are some serious contenders — one near the King Eddy Hotel looks to have an early 1930s stamp, but its edges are rounded down and it’s impossible to confirm; a reader once sent an email saying a stamp near Danforth and Logan was dated 1922, but Spacing has been unable to find it; on King West, almost two blocks west of Dufferin lies a pristine stamp form 1935; A residential driveway that abuts the sidewalk on Palmerston, near College and Bathurst, has a stamp from 1918.

Today’s Globe and Mail has an article by Dave LeBlanc in which he and Blackett wander around Parkdale with their heads focused downward, looking for old pieces of infrastructure that could help date the waves of civic construction that have swept through the neighbourhood.

Other sidewalk stamp articles:
Sidewalk Markings [ Cdn Design Resource ]
Sidewalk Stamps [ Torontoist ]
• Claire Cameron’s blog Feb. 27, April 11

9 comments

  1. My absolute fave stamps are the millennium ones; they show whimsical buildings being showered by fireworks in what looks to be a citywide celebration. The same design is used on turn-of-this-century blue bins as well.

    Yes, if only the spirit of the New Year could endure year round.

  2. There was some really old sidewalk that got trashed at the corner of Sneaky Dee’s for the B/S redesign of the street and saving/recycling old concrete isn’t at all on the city agenda, though I did bug Ms. Chow about it with no response. There was also a large amount of still good centennial stamp sidewalk on the south side that got trashed here too.
    There are two segments of curb near me/UfoT that are actually stone curbs, so therefore they’ve been missed as we must grind up the Escarpment and fill in the bay

  3. There’s a manhole cover right outside my house that is from 1916…I snapped a picture of it…I’d send it in to be posted but I have no idea who to send it to.

  4. I’ve been documenting sidewalk stamps in California and other places as examples of labor pride. A hundred years ago concrete was the “new technology” threatening esablished masons, and they had to deal with it. Fascinating stuff.

  5. Several stamps from the 1920s are visible in Long Branch.

    There’s one from 1925 (as best as I can make out) in front of 61 Fortieth St.

    There are stamps from 1928 and 1929 on James St. either side of Fortieth.

  6. Just found this article. Now I know that I, too, am an “infrastructure fetichist”. Have been building an image library of these things. San antonio, my town, has some great ones dating back. Ed Gaida self published a wonderful book about them.

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