A wide variety of historic documents exist that shed light on the history of street pavement. 

- Annual Municipal Reports (sometimes called Mayoral Reports), typically published from the mid-19th century through the 1920s, contain detailed reports and extensive statistical data regarding the types of pavement used, the amount of pavement laid down in a given year, the amount of money spent and assessments of the relative effectiveness of different pavement types.  Some reports include narrative overviews either by the mayor or the head of the public works or streets department that provide a compelling sense of the importance of pavement to a city.  Some cities are fortunate to have had their annual reports digitized, such as Savannah and Chicago.

- Municipal maps or city plans, sometimes actually called a pavement map or paving map, showing different kinds of pavement with different colors or symbols.  These were most common during the 1890s and early 1900s.  A very early version of this kind of map is that of Washington, DC, from 1873 at the Library of Congress.  These are valuable for visualizing the diversity of pavement types used and for seeing which streets or neighborhoods or areas of a city received which kind of pavement, if any at all.

- Newspapers during the 19th century frequently published articles or announcements regarding street improvements.  The Library of Congress' online Chronicling America website provides access to historic American newspapers between 1836 and 1922.  These often provide detailed information about types of pavement used, issues of cost and a sense of the impact the pavement is having or is anticipated to have.  Newspaper accounts are also valuable for providing citizens' perspective on the need for pavement or its effectiveness.

- Civil engineering and professional journals, such as Paving and Municipal Engineering; Engineering Magazine; Journal of the Association of Engineers Society; Municipal Journal and Engineer, are mainly from the 1890s through 1930s. and are more technical in nature and provide both articles on different pavement types, as well as updates from individual cities.  Advertisements for different companies -- mainly pavement manufacturers and suppliers -- illustrate the scale and importance of their operations.  Some have been digitized and are available through the Hathi Trust

- Technical Manuals summarizing or evaluating the relative merits of different kinds or approaches to street pavement were published from the 1890s through the 1920s.  Ira Osborn Baker's Treatise on Roads and Pavements (1906) is typical.

- Trade brochures published by individual companies to market their product provide detailed information about their product and usually including testimonials from representatives of different cities.  Much like 19th-century medicinal suppliers' advertisements, these brochures often boasted sensationalized or unrealistic performance standards for their product.



Abbott, Carl.  "Plank Roads and Wood-Block Pavements."  Journal of Forest History 25, No. 4 (Oct., 1981): 216-218.

Crowe, Sylvia.  The Landscape of Roads. London: The Architectural Press, 1960.

Duvekot, Laura Catherine. "The Road to Recognition: Preserving Florida's Historic Brick Pavements."  Thesis, Master of Historic Preservation, University of Georgia, 2014.

Hindley, Geoffrey.  A History of Roads.  London: Peter Davies, 1971.

Holley, I. B. Jr.  "Blacktop: How Asphalt Paving Came to the Urban United States."  Technology and Culture 44, No. 4 (Oct., 2003): 703-733.

Karnes, Thomas L.  Asphalt and Politics: A History of the American Highway System.  Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2009.

Kaszynski, William.  The American Highway: The History and Culture of Roads in the United States. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2000.

Loukaitou-Sideris, Anastasia, and Renia Ehrenfeucht.  Sidewalks: Conflict and Negotiation Over Public Space.  Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 2009.

McShane, Clay.  Down the Asphalt Path: The Automobile and the American City.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1994.

McShane, Clay.  "Transforming the Use of Urban Space: A Look at the Evolution in Street Pavements." Journal of Urban History 5 (1979): 279-307.

McShane, Clay, and Joel Tarr.  The Horse in the City: Living Machines in the 19th Century.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

McShane, Clay, and Joel Tarr.  “The Centrality of the Horse in the Nineteenth-Century American City.”  In The Making of Urban America, edited by Raymond A. Mohl.  New York: Scholarly Resources, Inc., 1997.

Schnapp, Jeffrey T.  “Three Pieces of Asphalt.”  Grey Room, No. 11 (Spring 2003): 5-21.

Tarr, Joel.  “The Horse Era in Pittsburgh.”  Western Pennsylvania History 92, No. 2 (Summer 2009): 28-41.

Williams, Robin B.  "`A Well-Paved City': Variety, Locality and Modernity in Paving Savannah's Streets." Arris: Journal of the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians 24 (2013): 20-39.



Bricks of Ohio Blog (B.O.B.): Tales & Trials of Brick Harvesting

History of the Hocking Valley Brick Industry.

Philadelphia: Historic Street Paving Thematic District (created 1998)-- nomination form and inventory documents.