Home > Grand Forks Notes, North Dakotiana > The Streets of Grand Forks

The Streets of Grand Forks

Grand Forks was one of the first cities in North Dakota with paved streets.  Fueled by high wheat prices and expanded production of the so-called “Second Boom” in North Dakota, communities like Grand Forks had the resources to provide improved amenities for their populations in the first decades of the 20th century.  They paved the streets with a material called Granitoid which is apparently a kind of concrete that uses Granite as an aggregate and stamped it with a cobble-stone like pattern.  Today there is a vigorous campaign to preserve sections of this granitoid pavement.  (More on this next week!)

Prior to the use of grantitoid, the streets of Grand Forks were paved with wood blocks some of which must have remained in use until the mid-20th century.  Very little of this wood paving remains.  Apparently during Grand Forks’ frequent flood sections of it would simply float away!  There is a one good example of it, however, located on the west side of the Grand Forks Community Church (formerly, I believe the Presbyterian Church). The blocks were placed in a sand bedding vertically (rather than horizontally as in medieval corduroy roads) creating a kind of wood cobble.

I’ve created a Google Earth .kmz file so you can see this pavement’s location and embedded these photographs in it as well.  You can download it here and view it in Google Earth.

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  1. Chuck Jones
    October 20, 2008 at 9:39 am

    As recently as the late seventies and eighties I still saw a lot of wooden street pavement in Chicago, especially in alley-way on the south side. Apparently some is still evident http://arcchicago.blogspot.com/2007/06/cedars-of-astor.html

  2. October 20, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Chuck,
    Thanks!! And thanks for the link to a great blog post!
    Bill

  3. BrianB
    October 20, 2008 at 10:28 am

    Amazing the blocks have held out so long. I’ve admired the “cobblestone” roads in town. Glad to hear there is initiative to preserve them.

  4. BrianB
    October 20, 2008 at 10:37 am

    That Chicago link has an extra “)” at the end that should be removed to view the page:
    http://arcchicago.blogspot.com/2007/06/cedars-of-astor.html

  5. October 24, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    That’s really interesting- I’ve never seen that kind of pavement before.

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