400 block of Reed Street discovered to be wood-paved

If you’re walking or driving past the soon-to-be-demolished Mt. Sinai, you might notice some wood blocks on the streets.

Photo from Dickinson Square West Civic Association.

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.

Photo from Dickinson Square West Civic Association.

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.

Photo from Dickinson Square West Civic Association.

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?

4 thoughts on “400 block of Reed Street discovered to be wood-paved

  • October 9, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Marlborough Street between Allen and Richmond has wood block paving under the asphalt, it’s visible in a pothole next to Old Brick church.

    • October 20, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Michelle – Thanks for the info! We went over today and checked it out. We took a few photos which you can see on our website below, and alerted Councilman Squilla (chairs streets committee), Streets Commissioner Perri, and Historical Commission’s Jon Farnham. Those are the people who are in a position to do something about the situation.

      Lynn & Cliff Landes, founders, http://www.smallstreetsphilly.org

  • October 13, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Pretty sure there were wood blocks in the 2100 block of Ludlow Street, next to the College of Physicians.

  • October 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Spied wood blocks under asphalt, exposed because pothole, on that little street between The college of Physicians and The Former Salvation Army about ten feet from 22nd Street.

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