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Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

Time Event
11:19a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 1
On Thursday 20th October godelescherbach (who shall henceforth be referred to as Fred) and I met up to wander the streets of Philadelphia in search of Toynbee Tiles. We found several, but also made plenty of new discoveries.

Earlier that morning before Fred arrived at my hotel, I had taken a walk around the city and at many of the locations of tiles listed at toynbee.net I drew a blank, except for this tiny tile buried in bricks at the junction of 15th & Walnut:

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11:23a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 2
Walking back to my hotel to meet up with Fred, I did notice a few small brown/grey rectangular patches at certain intersections in downtown Philly. I was obviously not completely familiar with the process by which Toynbee Tiles were laid but they were certainly of the right size, and I peeled away the corner of one (of two spotted) at Broad & Sansom to uncover what was very probably a new tile underneath. Later that morning, while Fred kept passers-by amused/baffled as to what we were doing, I chipped away the rest of the tar paper cover to reveal a fresh tile underneath:

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I used the screwdriver attachment of my Swiss Army knife as I didn't want to damage the tile with anything sharp. Nevertheless I discovered that unless the tar paper cover is easily separated from the tile it's a difficult job, so unless the cover comes away by using fingers only I now wouldn't recommend forcing the cover's separation. The remaining tar left adhered to the tile will probably wear away over time.
11:33a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 3
Here's another tile we began to uncover at the corner of Broad & S. Penn. Square, but finally left it only partially uncovered as we soon noticed the white surface of the tile was also coming away. Best to leave it rather than damage it, but I wonder why some tiles are adhered to concrete tiles beneath, in which it would be next to impossible to embed them.
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11:35a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 4
Here's an older tile at the corner of 11th & Market. You can see how small it is by the size of the matchstick next to it. Notice also the difference in the style of the poorly cut-away lettering, which suggests that someone other than the main suspect, the late James Morasco, was once having a go at doing this:

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11:37a
Philadelphia, 2005: Some Discoveries, part 5
Here's a tile we found at the corner of 11th & Chestnut. As with many of the other covered tiles we found, you can see the surrounding tarmac looks quite fresh. As the tile was already well-embedded into the tarmac the protective cover came away very easily, revealing a fresh – and unusually, green – tile. My mobile next to it lets you see how small this one is:

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11:38a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 6
We found three tiles at the junction of 12th & Chestnut. The first looks quite old, again with lettering that looks like it was carved rather than shaped into the tile:

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The second we left covered:

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With the third, again the cover came away very easily, but it was evident it had already suffered damage from traffic in that the blue wording on the right had already broken up. This extra wording varies from tile to tile, but it's usually some kind of instruction on how to lay the tiles, plus occasionally some conspiratorial reference to the Feds:

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11:40a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 7
By now Fred and I were getting the hang of what to look for. Here are two more new tiles we discovered (and left as we found them) at the intersection of Broad & Chestnut:



11:43a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 8
The largest tile we found that day was the often-photographed one at 13th & Chestnut:

11:50a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 9
Here's another old tile we found at 15th & Market:



It was here that a young woman came up to us and asked if we were researching the Toynbee Tiles. Previously she'd e-mailed toynbee.net's site owner to point out that there was also a relatively recent discovery made outside her school at 13th & Burke (?), but that six months later the site's maintainer had still made no mention of it (I wonder if he's still interested in maintaining the site).
11:57a
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 10
Here's the first tile I came upon by chance back in June 2005, at the intersection of 15th & Kennedy:



The white road markings have been repainted between then and now, but the tile still remains intact.
12:02p
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 11
Two old tiles we found at the intersection of Broad & Race:



12:04p
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 12
Two more new tiles we found (and left covered) at the intersection of Juniper & Chestnut:

12:06p
Philadelphia, October 2005: Some Discoveries, part 13
Here's a good one we found at the corner of Juniper & S. Penn. Square:



The annotation reads "Lay tile alone as hellions join up en-masse and give you beatings."

Out of the twenty seven reported locations of tiles at toynbee.net we visited twelve but only found four still visible. However we discovered fifteen more previously unreported, of which we uncovered a few to the light of day. As the new tiles are mostly on fresh tarmac, in all likelihood, they are the work of an altogether different tile-layer, or group of people, than the original person. In either case, as you can see, there are probably plenty more new tiles still to be found in downtown Philadelphia...

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