Saturday, January 27, 2007


there has been a lot of discussion on the community boards and blogs about brick sidewalks. r street nw is getting them. s street nw just got them. r ne is supposed to get them. some residents are thrilled, others a bit smug. personally i love the brick sidewalks but am a bit indifferent about fighting to get them. i agree with many that our efforts might be put to better use. I wonder though about the budgetary lines and if getting brick sidewalks really means not getting something else.

i'd like to start a pro/con list about brick sidewalks. this is assuming the brick vs concrete argument. i know there are other choices too.
please comment with your points.


1. very attractive.
2. allows water to reach root system of trees.
3. ease to repair
4. befitting of the old character/materials of the neighborhood.
5. the whole broken windows theory.

1. Money
2. hard to shovel snow
3. hard to clean
4. bad for the handicapped
5. bad for high heels
6. Spalting
7. roots can easily cause uneveness in sidewalk
9 provokes tension over "gentrification" and appearance over people argument.
10. would expel a lot of community effort to get them
11. upheaval time to do the work.

are people gonna start wanting cobblestone streets too?


  1. One of the odd things about the District's efforts to install brick sidewalks is that in my neighborhood, they bricked the sidewalks but also paved over the cobblestone alleys. Not only were the cobblestone alleys a nice throwback to a bygone era, but they also forced people to slow down when driving through them....

  2. please forgive my ignorance, but what is the broken windows theory?

  3. alex,

    good point about the slowing of traffic. richard layman makes the point about something similar to cobblestones (belgian block, i'm not familiar with it, but there is a picture here.

    so, maybe we should push for cobblestones, sean. :)

  4. the brokens windows theory is pretty hotly contested, but its basically states that areas that look crime ridden will have more crime, while cleaning these areas up will help to reduce crime.

    its the theory nyc was using in their determined anti grafitti war in the 90's.i like the theory if only that it promotes dignity and self respect in a community. as a crime fighting mechanism.. i dunno....

    imgoph, im not pushing for cobblestones, though paving over existing ones is so freakin inept.

    i do like them alot. the belgian block is pretty hot too. its way classier than speed bumps, which make me want to honk when i drive over. especially it ritzy hoods.

  5. Thanks for explaining the broken windows theory. I've heard the same theory applied to litter/trash. (i.e. That people are more likely to litter in places where there's already trash.) Perhaps the relationship with crime is a correlation (i.e. you tend to see the two occuring together) but not causation.

  6. I think that the broken windows theory definitely holds some weight. The only issue I have with brick sidewalks is one that you pointed out: They're not very accessible to disabled people. My roommate is wheelchair-bound, and he avoids going to areas like parts of Old Town Alexandria because of the brick sidewalks.

  7. wow. are the bricks in old town pretty uneven?
    sad that in such a rich city they wouldnt upkeep them regularly.....

    i was in fells point this weekend and a lot of the brick sidewalks there were very flat and smooth..... way smoother that the stone streets.
    they must have a good crew ( or they were recently worked on)