Infrastructure North St. Louis St. Louis Place

St. Louis Place: Sidewalk Plaques and Brick Alleys

by Michael R. Allen

Strengthening the historic setting of the St. Louis Place neighborhood’s dense core, now nominated to the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district by the Preservation Research Office, are remaining parts of the built environment beyond buildings. There are several remaining brick alleys and historic granitoid sidewalks on and around St. Louis Avenue between 20th Street and Parnell Avenue.

If the word “granitoid” is not familiar, the appearance probably is. Granitoid sidewalks included crushed aggregate rock in the cement to create a speckled walk with the surface appearance similar to granite. Granitoid paving dates to the 1890s and was common through the early part of the 20th century. Contractors often left a metal plaque embedded in the pavement to identify their work. St. Louis Place is fortunate to not only have these plaques left, but to have hundreds of feet of historic sidewalk paving largely in good repair.

A Frank J. Sullivan sidewalk plaque on St. Louis Avenue, with the date of paving.
A P.M. Bruner Granitoid sidewalk plaque on St. Louis Avenue.
The alley between University Street and St. Louis Avenue on the north and south, and 25th and Parnell on the east and west.
The alley between St. Louis Avenue and Montgomery Street on the north and south and 25th Street and Parnell Avenue on the east and west.

6 replies on “St. Louis Place: Sidewalk Plaques and Brick Alleys”

Very informative post. I have over time observed different types of sidewalks and have come across several in this area that are definitely mixed with aggregate crushed rock. I have found them near historic buildings in small towns usually. One case was a stairway along side an early 1900s hotel. I have taken several photos of it. I did not look for any mental names as I didn’t know they existed. I knew that the cement was old and different than todays but didn’t know it was called Granitoid. I had wondered about these sidewalks as I kept coming across them in older areas. Now I know what to call them and hopefully you won’t mind — I might write a post on them myself now that I know what to call them. You are a wealth of information and I thank you. — barbara

Mr. Allen, You’ve done it again. As a resident of this area for all of my life and my parent’s lives. Dates back 60 plus years. We have been so negatively influenced by some of the everyday activities, that we tend to overlook the beauty and also rarity of the architecture and the hidden jewels in this area. You are an artist with an extravagant eye for finding beauty where it is overlooked. Thank you

My brick alley was paved over several years ago, but I still have a brick street on Grace Ave across from Fanning School. Another facet of the brick is how long lasting it is. I’m not sure when the street on Grace was laid, nor the alleys you mention, but they are clearly decades old. This means that the money thrown at paving over the brick might be better spent resetting the brick that is already in place.
Once covered in asphalt it seems like it is constantly being repaved. If a true cost analysis was done, I doubt seriously asphalt would be a viable financial alternative to brick. Is there a way to figure out the age of brick alleys and streets? If so such a calculation would be possible.

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