Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cobblestone Streets- Practical or Nostalgic?

There's something about a cobblestone street that, besides helping you twist your ankle, also makes traversing them seem more special than just walking down a normal road. Someone took effort to make this street. It wasn't just heavy machinery belching out black tar and concrete. It was crafted.

Guatemala has its share of cobblestone streets. We have one on the very steep road we drive up every morning. The constant traffic is constantly jarring stones loose and the resulting holes are then filled with pavement slowly morphing it into a more practical, mundane road.

According to Wikipedia, a benefit of cobblestone over pavement is "Cobblestones set in sand have the environmental advantage of being permeable paving, and of flexing rather than cracking with movements in the ground." In a land of long rainy seasons, frequent earth tremors and quakes, it seems like this would be beneficial. Something I know for a fact is that the pavement on the other roads going to school every day is constantly riddled with new potholes... especially after any rain. (This is a really good photo from Jose Luis Casro on Flicker. I am not posting the photo because I do not have the rights, but please click on the link. It's amazing!)

The flicker user Jose Luis Castro has some amazing photos with different perspectives in his shots of cobblestone streets.

Here is another one of his fabulous shots:

It seems cobblestone streets are one of many things that make me wonder how effective some changes made in the name of "progress" have been. I know that I appreciate well-paved roads. I know that I don't have enough data to compare potholes in cobblestone vs. paved for effectiveness, but I would love to know the answer if you know.

1 comment:

  1. I own a house in Ashtabula Ohio that has a cobble stone street in front of it, square blocks of sandstone set in a bed of clay. It has been in place for about 100 years and looks it, the surface rolls like waves and is stained from all the oil pans it has poked holes into. That said: a major reason I bought the house was how quaint the road out front looked.