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These sidewalk stamps date the ground under your feet

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 22, 2013

toronto sidewalk stampObservant shoe gazers will note the ubiquitous square slabs of public sidewalk in Toronto are dotted with small stamps bearing a name and date. The older ones have often been worn into faint sunken relief by the erosion of millions of shoes - new ones tend to stand out on patches of light cement.

From the city's point of view, the practice of impressing names into the cement is mostly about quality control, but keeping an eye to the ground for the earliest date makes for a fun game too.

toronto sidewalk stampAccording to engineering and construction services, new stamps must follow strict set of rules regarding size and placement. As the diagram above shows, the name of the contractor must arch over the date and be bound within a rounded rectangle border. The stamp must be 22.5 x 13 cms and placed at either end of the installation or every 10 pieces, whichever is less.

Rules weren't as strict in the past. A quick scan of the nearest pedestrian walkway will yield stamps from different decades and in a range of styles. The oldest I know of is at Greenwood subway station (shown) and dates from 1946. Some bear the simple descriptor "city" for sidewalk laid by Toronto's own works department. Most sidewalk work is contracted out, however.

Keep an eye out next time you're on the street.

Have you seen an older stamp? Upload a photo and share the link below.


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Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Chris Bateman



MattB / March 22, 2013 at 09:24 am
It's not a sidewalk concrete stamp, but on the north-east corner of Bellwoods and Queen there's a small metal cover on the sidewalk stamped 1911.
Ed / March 22, 2013 at 09:29 am
Long Branch still has sidewalks from the 1920s. Stamps from Ramsay Construction dated 1928 or 1929 are still visible; James St. and Dominion Rd. are a couple of streets to look for them, but they are in quite a few places.

My street had sections of sidewalk from 1925, including a cross-hatched slab in front of my driveway (to give Model Ts more traction I guess). That all got replaced by an extra-wide new sidewalk last fall though.
Jeremy Gilbert / March 22, 2013 at 09:32 am
This may not count, but this contractor's stone is on the sidewalk at a house on High Park Blvd, from 1924.
Midtown / March 22, 2013 at 09:52 am
In the top photo here the name 'PERF' is, if I recall correctly, probably abbreviated from Perfetti Construction, another stamp that can also be seen around town.
Cement Overshoes / March 22, 2013 at 10:59 am
Gazzola Paving and Panza Bros. are another couple of stamps that are quite common. The rectangular CITY stamps weren't used after the mid-90s.
#winning / March 22, 2013 at 11:10 am
the different style of stamps used for a short time, I think to commemmerate the millennium or something, are kind of interesting:
Yuri / March 22, 2013 at 11:38 am
Does anybody know if there is a standard for the cement pieces size?
Plens / March 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Has anyone else noticed that more and more contractors are creating those ugly white-sprayed sidewalks?
Midtown / March 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm
The white spray is to slow down curing of the concrete by preventing it from drying too quickly. They also sometimes use wetted burlap, but that is less common now. The spray quickly wears off with use.
Jon / October 29, 2013 at 04:45 pm
I'm from Lansing, MI. I've noticed that most new sidewalks don't have stamps. I like the look of the older ones where you can see the stones(agregate). I've been thinking about a blog like this for several years. These simple things make up our culture and shouldn't be replace with haste. The oldest in my neighborhood is from 1917. Thanks Chris
Other Cities: Montreal