Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where the bluestone ends

Among my many other quirky passions, I'm a fan of old-fashioned sidewalks, those uneven, imperfect, root-lifted bluestone, limestone and granite stones which have served for a century or more as pathways for human traffic.

Think of all the historic personalities who may have passed over the beautiful old stones on High Street, and maybe you'll grieve with me when you see them pull up yet another old slate walkway and replace it with more reliable, but less aesthetically-pleasing concrete. The concrete is more easily maintained, and less likely to cause a lawsuit, but it has far less soul.

And that's what happened today on High Street. In the same location where a large, ancient beech was felled, Wesleyan crews were busy this morning tearing up the bluestone.

The pile of vintage slate was carted away, likely to have a second life in a patio for some McMansion, (though one hopes it'll reappear somewhere on campus) and we'll be left treading on the undeniably safer, more consistent, more easily plowed with fast moving snowblowers, 21st century sidewalk.

Until today, the walkway on High was history. Now, it's just another sidewalk.


Anonymous said...

There is not much to say about concrete's aesthetic attractions as a sidewalk material. It is very sad to see old slate and even beautiful old granite walks replaced by tis homely material. Who is responsible for this decision? Maybe THEY should be replaced!

Anonymous said...

I use that sidewalk regularly and while bluestone looks pretty, it was dangerous to walk on, given how uneven and cracked the pieces were. I'd like to be able to actually walk on the sidewalks without concern for tripping and breaking something vital.

And any city, school, or organization, like Wesleyan or Middletown itself, has to consider the safety of it's inhabitants and visitors. Sometimes function has to come before beauty.

Thnk about that next time someone writes a "I wish they would replace _______ because of safety issues".