Signs Afoot

My husband and I go for a long walk around our north Willow Glen neighborhood almost every evening. After years of covering the same ground, I noticed the wide variety and age of signs and marks under foot. A humble history is written in the pavement.

First are the concrete marks – impressions indicating what company installed the sidewalk and what year they did it. All of the marks seem to be dated between 1940 and 1967. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) put in the oldest walks during the Great Depression, followed by contract concrete companies during the 1950s and 1960s. Newer sidewalks are not so marked.

The Willow Glen community centers around Lincoln Avenue (one of the regular areas where we walk), renamed in 1865 after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Willow Glen voted to become part of San Jose in 1936 but still has its own newspapers, community blog, Founders Day parade and other unique events.

On our walks I see many pavement service covers (manhole covers, water and telephone access plates, drain grates, etc.) that are marked not only with their function but who made them and where they were made. Some are brass or steel, some concrete, some are made of plastic resin. Some designs are ornate but others are very plain. All of the marked locations are either in the local San Francisco Bay Area (Oakland, San Francisco, Los Gatos, or San Jose, California) or very far away (China, India, Mexico). Technology generations are represented by Bell System (defunct company), Pacific Telephone (defunct company), SBC (defunct company), Broadband…

Come walk with me to see this strange collection…

WPA
1940 Concrete MarkWPA 1940 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
WPA
1941 Concrete MarkWPA 1941 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
A.A. Lopez
1954 Concrete MarkA.A. Lopez 1954 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
N.R. Esparza Contractor
1955 Concrete MarkN.R. Esparza Contractor 1955 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
M. Padia Cement Contractor
1956 Concrete MarkM. Padia Cement Contractor 1956 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
M. A. Preble Contractor
1956 Concrete MarkM. A. Preble Contractor 1956 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Silvery Tersini Driveways
Streamlined 1958 MarkSilvery Tersini Driveways Streamlined 1958 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
A.L. Bynum
1959 Concrete Mark1959 A.L. Bynum Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
James Griffiths
1960 Concrete MarkJames Griffiths 1960 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Lloyd Newgren Contractor
1965 Concrete Mark1965 Lloyd Newgren Contractor Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
A&B Concrete Const.
1967 Concrete Mark1967 Concrete Mark, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
volunteer shoe, hand, dog
marks on concretevolunteer shoe, hand, dog marks on concrete, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Brooks Products
Oakland
Water MeterBrooks Products Oakland Water Meter, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
San Jose Foundary
San Jose, Cal
drain grateSan Jose Foundary drain grate, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
G.R. Bothwell
San Jose Calif
drain grateG.R. Bothwell San Jose Calif drain grate, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Voltage
PG&E
Forni CorpVoltage PG&E Forni Corp access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Keystone Los Gatos
Bell System
access coverKeystone Los Gatos Bell System access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Christy
Pacific Telephone
access coverChristy Pacific Telephone access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
hand welded
SBC telephone
access coverhand welded SBC telephone access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
welded
Broadband CCP
access coverwelded Broadband CCP access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
India
drain
grateIndia drain grate, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Sanitary Sewer
China
manhole coverSanitary Sewer China manhole cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Art Concrete Wks
Oakland Patented
Water Meter coverArt Concrete Wks Oakland Patented Water Meter cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
San Jose
Water Works
access coverSan Jose Water Works access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
American Brass and Iron Foundary
Storm Sewer manhole cover
Oakland, CaliforniaAmerican Brass and Iron Foundary Storm Sewer manhole cover Oakland, California, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Sewer
SBF Mexico
manhole coverSewer SBF Mexico manhole cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson
Street Washer Lawn Cock
Mfg by M. Greenberg’s Sons
S.F. Cal access coverStreet Washer Lawn Cock Mfg by M. Greenberg's Sons S.F. Cal  access cover, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson

Painted curb notice with fish (next to drain grates)
No Dumping Hotline 945-3000 – Flows to Guadalupe River

Painted curb notice with fish No Dumping Hotline 945-3000 Flows to Guadalupe River, Willow Glen California photo: copyright 2009 Katy Dickinson

Images Copyright 2009 by Katy Dickinson

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2 Comments

Filed under News & Reviews

2 responses to “Signs Afoot

  1. Pingback: Manhole Cover Designs | KatysBlog

  2. Deanna Bynum

    A.L. Bynum was my grandfsther.. My father’s father.. my father died when I was seven, I am now 51.. after my father died, my mother took me away, and I never got to know that side of the family… growing up in San Jose Cal. I have seen my grandfather’s name everywhere on city sidewalks, and also mine… I would like to know more about my grandfather and his buisness

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