If you’re walking or driving past the soon-to-be-demolished Mt. Sinai, you might notice some wood blocks on the streets.
While working on repaving the 400 block of Reed Street, wood blocks that could be original to the street were discovered.
The other street with wood blocks in Philadelphia is the 200 block of Camac Street. But what makes this newly-discovered wood-blocked portion of Reed Street different is that some of these blocks could be original, unlike those on Camac Street which have been replaced over the years.
According to Streets Commissioner David Perry, “The paving work is stopped until an appropriate course of action is determined. We will evaluate the situation and report findings. Unlike Camac Street which was replaced many times over at least some of these wood blocks could be original. I would advise folks to be careful handling the blocks as they were likely coated in creosote.”
So why exactly is this street paved with wood? According to an article from historian David O. Whitten, wood blocks were considered to be best utilized on streets near hospitals, schools and public buildings where the noise on the street would become distracting in periods of heavy traffic.
Using the original wood blocks on the street likely isn’t an option based on their condition, but the city is in the process of putting a preservation effort forward to somehow maintain the history here. Plans being discussed include the display of a segment of the original street at a museum, along with some way to acknowledge the history of Reed Street, possibly with the installation of a small section of new blocks.
So until some sort of plan is set in place, you’re going to have to deal with this unpaved portion of Reed Street.
You can check out some more pictures of the street on Dickinson Square West Civic Association’s website.
This is a pretty cool discovery, isn’t it?