these are the posts tagged ‘walking on history’:


walking on history XVI: sidewalk date stamps

i’m a bit behind on posts around here, but now that we’re back home, i plan to catch up with all our adventures in the land of maple syrup. these posts will be backdated, so that hopefully they’ll more or less match our time in canada.

so first up, here’s something cool that you don’t see much of in europe — sidewalk stamps.

the concept of cement sidewalks and driveways feels like a very north american thing to us. sure, we have them here as well, but more often than not there’s also stone pavements, calçada, or small blocks that fit together to create a pattern. and when we do cement for sidewalks, we don’t much care who put it there — probably the municipality, who will have to repave everything when it cracks.

but in north america, cement comes with these “stamps” that let you know which company paved that bit you’re walking on, and when it got done. i find it sort of poetic, as if pavements were masterpieces being signed by their artists.

they’re also a good way to see history right under our feet. many of these pavements (though not the ones i photographed in central toronto) have been around for over 100 years and are still being used. sometimes, footprints (or paws!) get embedded there and are still visible, long after their owners grow up or move away.

all around us, people are making things and leaving dents in the world, and sometimes, whether they meant to or not, these marks stay around for a long time — and i kind of like knowing that. :)

hank has a whole video about this and he explains it better than i do, so go watch it!

walking on history XV: expo 92

same, same… but different.

walking on history XIV: Epine GY 7

on march 13 1948, a british trawler was wrecked near djúpalónssandur beach in iceland, but because of the bad weather, it was impossible to reach the ship to rescue the crew. 14 people died that day, one washed ashore still alive, and four were rescued when the tide finally turned, by throwing a line from the nearby cliffs to the mast, and using a rescue seat to bring those sailors back to safety.

70 years later and the twisted iron is still strewn around the beach, a powerful memorial to this accident.

ps — also, this 99% invisible episode, which links to readtheplaque.com, a wonderful compendium of interesting places.

walking on history, XIII: roman roads

over 400,000 kms of roads connected the roman empire and it’s amazing that many of them still survive to this day. famously straight and featuring big slabs of polished rock, they were used for centuries to move troops around, trade goods, spread messages quickly… and even transport the animals that would fight humans and each other in the colosseum.

it’s fun to spot them throughout europe. the ones above are in rome, while the one below is in italica (near seville)… and yet, they look remarkably similar, despite being over 2000km apart.

it’s quite a feat of engineering!

walking on history, XII: el torcal de antequera

besides really old trees, you know what else doesn’t usually get associated with history — but actually has a lot to tell? rocks, that’s what! they’re in most places, and can definitely tells lots of stories, even when they’re not particularly interesting at first glance.

on our andalusian roadtrip last summer we made a detour through the torcal de antequera, a famous karst landscape. the slovenes gave the name to these special limestone topographies (with their caves and intermittent lakes), but they can be found a bit all around the world.

in antequera, they rise above the hills in impressive stratified forms… like piles of pancakes!

wikipedia explains where they came from:

The Jurassic age limestone is about 150 million years old and was laid down in a marine corridor that extended from the Gulf of Cádiz to Alicante between the present Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. These seabeds were uplifted to an elevation of over 1300 meters during the Tertiary era, resulting in a modest mountain range of flat-lying limestone, which is rare in Andalucia.

so they used to be in the sea, which was much more inland than what it is now. neat!

do you know how rocks split? they can dissolve or exfoliate for instance, but my favourite is called freeze-thaw. in this weathering process, water seeps into the cracks of the rocks. when it freezes, its volume increases about 10%, but it has no place to go… thus cracking the rocks in its expansion. when it melts, the water then travels further into the rock, repeating the process. voilà!

i still think i could have been a geologist, in a different life. :)