Cobblestones: A Brief History Cobblestones are circular, water-worn stones that are used to pave streets. Traditionally, they were put in sand and occasionally bonded with mortar. Cobblestone streets did not form ruts or become muddy or dirty like dirt roads. Instead, they showed the marks of horses' hooves and carts' wheels. In modern times, cobblestones are again being used as pavement markers. But they are now made of concrete.
People have been making use of the natural properties of cobbles for paving roads since at least Roman times. The ancient Romans built their roads using a mixture of gravel and crushed rock called "aggregate". They laid the aggregate down in layers, packed it hard with horse or cart traffic, and then added water to make it smooth. When the rain washed away some of the surface dusting of age, viewers would have seen dark and light bands running across the road.
In the United States, cobblestones first appeared around 1760. Because there were no trees or other vegetation to grow under, these paved streets needed to be kept open so vehicles could pass easily. Paving stones were the only thing strong enough to do this job. At first, these stones were just large rocks placed end-to-end. As time went on, people started shaping them into flat surfaces called "cobblestones" by cutting corners off rectangles and rolling them along the ground to create rectangular blocks.
They were assembled by hand, without the use of any tools, in the form of a jigsaw puzzle. Cobblestones were usually put in sand, but if the road owner was affluent, they were sometimes set in mortar. Cobblestone roads are usable. They can be cleaned out of trash and debris with little effort. The only real problem with them is that they are not resurfaced often enough to remain smooth.
The first recorded use of the word "cobble" was in 1665. It came from the Dutch koppebeek, which means "chips or shavings of stone." In that day and age, a cobbled street would have been made of chipped or shaved stone. As time went on, "cobble" came to mean a small rounded mass of rock, especially one used for paving streets. So, a cobblestone street would be made of many small rocks glued together.
Today's roads are made of asphalt or concrete. Both types of roads have their advantages and disadvantages. Asphalt is a soft material that gets hot during sunny days and cold at night. This makes it ideal for warmer climates like California where you need insulation against heat loss and water retention when it rains. Concrete is hard and durable. It does not get hot or cold, which makes it perfect for colder climates like Canada or Europe where temperatures fluctuate greatly throughout the year.
Some roadways were still paved with "cobbles" (big water-rounded stones taken from beaches), odd shaped flat stones 6 to 8 in. Wide, or rough-gravelled tracks at the start of Victoria's reign (Photo 1). By the end of the century, most roads had been smoothed over with gravel or crushed rock.
The making of a cobble street. First, smooth dirt or clay is formed into small rounded balls about the size of a large marble (4 to 6 inches or 10 to 15 cm across). These are then placed end to end to form a continuous roadway. As more balls are added, the original roadbed becomes rougher. Finally, some of the smaller balls are used as fillers to raise the roadway above ground level. When dry, this mixture can be pounded hard with heavy boots so that it will not return to its previous shape.
In London, brick was the preferred building material until after 1815 when stone took over. But even before then, iron rails had been put down on some city streets as an alternative to bricks or cobblestones. The drivers of carriages could then use these streets as crosswalks without getting out of their vehicles.
The making of a gravel street. This process starts with forming holes in the ground - either by hand or with explosives - and filling them with gravel or rocks of suitable size.
A naturally rounded stone, bigger than a pebble but smaller than a boulder, is a type of stone that is commonly used in street paving or construction. The term "cobblestone" came from the Old English word kobbūne, which means "small round stone." These stones were used to pave roads before asphalted streets were common. They are still used today in some countries to pave roads that are not paved with asphalt.
The first recorded use of cobbles on a road was in 1556 by William Warner. He called them "gravel stones" and they were used as an improvement to the pavement of London's Fleet Street.
These days, the word "cobblestones" is used mostly to describe small rocks used in landscaping. But their original purpose is still present in the name of some cities around the world: Köpenicker Straße in Berlin is a street filled with cobblestones.
Cobblestones can be hard to walk on because there is no gutter between each one so all the water has to go over the top. This makes them bad for roads that people drive on regularly like sidewalks or parking lots. However, this also makes them good for roads that don't need much water management such as paths through woods or gardens.
The cobblestone (Adoquines) streets of Old San Juan are made of blue stone cast from furnace slag carried here as ballast aboard Spanish ships. The distinctive blue hue is caused by age and dampness. Although there are other colors of stone used for paving, such as red brick and black flagstone, the blue ones are most common.
There are two types of stones used in street paving: macadamoid and adoquine. Macadamoid is a hard rock that is smoothed down to make a road surface. Adoquine is the name given to any type of gravel or small rock. These are the main ingredients in asphalt mixes that are used to pave roads outside of cities and towns. In addition, there are various types of crushed rock that are used for erosion control and decorative purposes.
Macadamoid was developed in Scotland in the early 1800s and came to America when the first highways were built here. It's made up of small pieces of stone or gravel mixed with tar or hot bitumen (the same substance used to build roads today). The stone acts as a binder for the tar or bitumen and helps it adhere to the ground so it doesn't wash away during rainstorms.
To prevent floods, medieval England's roadways were composed of soil and cobblestone and sloped into a rainwater ditch in the middle of the road. This would have been a great idea if people had quit stuffing their rubbish everywhere they could. As it is, roads were littered with broken glass, oil, and other waste.
The streets were not illuminated by gas lights as we know them today, but rather by torches carried by servants or slaves. These torches made nighttime travel dangerous for both pedestrians and horses. There are reports of riders having their horses saddled up ahead of time so they could keep up with the procession at night.
There were no police officers to protect citizens from crime. If you were attacked, there were soldiers nearby who could be called to fight your battle, but that wasn't always possible. Thieves used to pull down signs advertising the presence of valuable goods inside homes. If they were caught, they would usually get six months in jail.
Criminals also used to break into houses at night and steal anything they could carry away with them. People threw stones at thieves to scare them off of their property. In more serious cases, victims could report the theft to local officials who would try to catch the thief. Otherwise, they would just assume you forgot where you left it behind.