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Back in the Days Before Asphalt

By Eric Richardson
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2007, at 09:14PM
Old Brick Roadway Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Last month I posted about the road work at Alameda and Main, and how the lines of industry were being removed as long-buried rails were being dug up and taken out. That work is still going on, and it's definitely worth taking a look at.

With all the roadway torn out of that intersection, what do you find? Brick, and lots of it. They used to make roads out of brick after all. Even though they haven't done so for quite a long time, photos can attest that there's a lot of it still there under there.

Even as far back as 1910 Los Angeles was doing much more paving with asphalt than with brick -- in 1909 over 17 miles of asphalt street was laid while only a half mile of brickwork was done. In 1914 the City Council approved a long-delayed storm drain project for Alameda between North Main and 6th. The specifications for this project included brick gutters and an asphalt roadway. It's quite possible that the brick seen above dates from that time.

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