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URBAN HIKE

Sidewalk Special
updated: Jul 30, 2011, 10:00 AM

By Peter Hartmann & Stacey Wright

This week we continued our quest to walk all 256 miles of public streets within the city limits of Santa Barbara. But rather than report on a specific adventure, we've decided to share with you some of the photos of sidewalk contractor stamps and other interesting sidewalk markings we've seen along the way.

Some of you may recall that our very first Urban Hikers submission to Edhat concerned something we had seen along our hiking route, even before we had officially become the "Urban Hikers". More specifically it was a "Strange Symbol" that we photographed and submitted in hopes that the incredibly intelligent Edhat readers could and would help us identify it. After hiking the vast majority of the city, we are still partial to this mark. We loved it first, and we still love it best.

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When we posted the story, readers offered their ideas about what the mark meant. Some said it had to do with the artist formerly known as Prince and we liked that. Others speculated that the mark was some sort of brand, adorning the sidewalk outside the residence of an iron worker who lived there in the 1930's. Some even offered that the sign might have something to do with the Mission; or perhaps it was a relic from Santa Barbara's Chinatown. We're still unsure about all of this, but we do know that the sidewalk across the streets dates from 1920, so we figure the brand is from about that era.

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And next to the "strange symbol" is another unusual stamp.

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But, what we've noticed in our travels around the town is that C.C. Pike may have been the longest running sidewalk contractor in Santa Barbara. As proof, we offer the oldest stamp that we've found, which is dated 1903.

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The stamp (located near the stonework toward the bottom right corner of the photo below) was placed at what appears to have been a driveway. Since we know the stamp dates from 1903, we wonder whether the sidewalk/ driveway was built for a horse and carriage or for a horseless carriage. That particular stamp is located in the 1400 block of Garden Street, across from what is now Kids World.

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Mr. Pike was prolific about town and left his mark on many sidewalks from the early 1900's and into the 1930's. Here we present the other examples of his work that we've come across.

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If you're beginning to think we're a little unusual or even possibly a bit nerdy because of our fascination with sidewalk markings, you may be right. But we are not alone. Nor are we as intense in our passion as others seem to be. We did an internet search and found a few articles to prove this point. There's a guy who first recognized the beauty of sidewalk marks in St. Louis, and subsequently traveled to Philadelphia, Chicago, Spokane, Colorado Springs, Denver, Albuquerque and Tucson in search of more. Here's the link. And the City of Portland, Oregon has found sidewalk contractors' stamps to be so significant that they've cataloged them, and put the catalog on their website. Here's the link to the city's website - if you do a search on the site for sidewalk contractor stamps, you'll get the catalog in a PDF format. But we were most excited to learn of the work of Lincoln Cushing, another "stamp collector" who has a stamp listed in his archives that he found in Santa Barbara! Here's the link to his website.

And so, without further ado, and in no particular order, we present to you a portion of the stamps we've collected on the city streets of Santa Barbara, and explain why we like what we saw.

We like the inclusion of the phone number

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The simplicity of Mr. Bradbury's stamp

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A rare curb stamp

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The way Mr. Hodson's changed over the years - but we prefer the old one by far

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As did Western Motors'

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Sam Hunter was very thorough

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The Municipal Improvement Company is simply classic

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Messieurs Bonilla & Carreno appear to have become partners after solo careers

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Nicholas Berry's stamp is very straightforward

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Messieurs Cornwall, Morrison and Richardson made their stamps to read from either direction

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Mr. Richardson once had a partner named Mr. Hunter

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Jule Maurel has a cool name

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Cox and Sissom are a mainstay of our local sidewalks

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Three guys teamed up here - Messieurs Fairchild, Gilmore & Wilton ...we guess they just listed their names in alphabetical order.

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C.E. Green's original Art Deco stamp morphed into a no-nonsense modern one

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We all know that contractors aren't the only ones who enjoy leaving their marks in freshly poured concrete. We've come across countless examples of this, and share just a few more shots with you here.

We like this warning

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And not far from it we found what appears to be a wine jug...any connection?

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This one is from a bygone era for sure - it's located across the street from Roosevelt School

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And we're not certain, but we believe these prints may have been left by the guy in the gorilla suit.

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As mentioned, these are just a fraction of what we have seen as we walk the streets, with our eyes downcast. As you know, we've found misspelled street names, street names with backward letters, evidence of changes in the names of our streets, many more and different contractor stamps, and even a street name that no longer exists. In fact, does anyone in Edhatland know where Putnam Ave. is or was? We do.

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And lastly, please indulge us in a bit of commentary about the sidewalks of our town and those across America. After walking nearly all of Santa Barbara's sidewalks, we've become rather fond, if not downright proud of them. If you look at the websites we mentioned above you'll see that in comparison, we have an amazing number of well-preserved stamps, marks and other historically significant sidewalk features dotting the sidewalks of our town. We think we have more than most other places do. We are saddened that some of these relics are being destroyed in the pursuit of "improving" sidewalks with bulb-outs and other unnecessary modifications. We support the addition of ramps for baby strollers, wheelchairs and the like, but we wish that those who are responsible for these important changes would do what they can to preserve the sidewalk marks, stamps and signs from our past. Other cities, such as Tucson and Berkeley have started to actively preserve their historical sidewalk features, and we would like to see that happening here in Santa Barbara. We have a very rich local history, and it's well worth preserving.

If you, our dear readers, are interested in this subject and wish to see more of our "stamp collection" - along with other fascinating sidewalk marks and signage - please let us know and we'll publish a future edition of sidewalks marks. We realize not everyone is as geeky as we are, and don't want to bore you with minutia, but if you WANT to see more, just say the word.

As always we encourage you to go on foot and explore our wonderful community, to discover new and different things and above all to keep your eyes, ears and minds open in your travels.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 198364P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 10:14 AM

One thing that has been cool is that the City has often asked that the sidewalk stamps be retained when sidewalks are redone. I think more should be done to preserve them as they are a special, though often overlooked part of SB history. Thank you for bringing them to light. I hope other Edhatters have more information and stories about the people who made these stamps.

 

 COMMENT 198373 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 10:40 AM

There are a few missed stamps. D'Alfonso comes to mind.

 

 COMMENT 198390P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 11:13 AM

You made my day!! I only recently noticed a Western Motors near my house (an odd name for a concrete company), and got to looking. At one intersection in San Roque, there are THREE different company's stamps! Curious, for sure.
I had started photographing stamps, so I really enjoyed your story.
I vote for another installment! Stamps are yet another treasure from bygone times when companies and tradespeople "signed" their work. It wasn't really about advertising themselves as much as it was about pride of craft and being part of progress.

 

 COMMENT 198394P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 11:23 AM

A guy named Luke Cole has a site with several Santa Barbara stamps his. If you go to his own site, which is the name and dot com, click on "New Stuff," and you'll see some good ones.

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 11:28 AM

J Wiley= John Wiley?

 

 JOHN WILEY agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 11:33 AM

You caught me Roger! I remember placing that stamp back in 1924 just after my 55th birthday. ;)

 

 CAPTAIN HALEY agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 12:58 PM

Good memory, John!

 

 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 01:28 PM

You made me spill my popcorn..

 

 COMMENT 198488P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 03:55 PM

I love it when a city contracts its work out--and look at the incredible quality as a result! I bet the work was completed in a reasonable amount of time too!

btw, that JohnEdwards company apparently had a lot of controversies surrounding back in it's day ; ) ....

 

 MACSCIDOR agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 04:52 PM

(Sad) cement sightings: One day I noticed a man walking around our 1970s building. The guy said that he was just looking at the cement areas because his Dad had worked on them back then. Due to the slight slope and location, the sidewalk and bordering planters are 'different' than normal cement paths. I looked down ... and parts that were perfectly finished years ago were now badly chipped away from all the skateboarders doing tricks off the low walls. ... And then there are the folks who carve nonsense into newly installed cement. Bummer-stuff. I always think of the craftsmen who work on those projects. Thanks for the photos & info.

 

 COMMENT 198532P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-30 07:54 PM

Thank you for all the wonderful adventures you take us on with your hikes. Over the years, while traveling, I love looking at manhole covers. They, too, have wonderful designs, names and reflect history of the area. Happy hiking, and yes please post more of your sightings.

 

 COMMENT 198576 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 08:08 AM

This is fabulous, Urban Hikers. Thank you so much for sharing this and your hikes and commentary.

 

 COMMENT 198582 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 08:26 AM

i wonder if the fish on the pike stamps represented a pike and not the christianist symbol,.... think so.

 

 COMMENT 198590 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 08:55 AM

While walking in the Mission District in San Francisco I came across an "unofficial" sidewalk stamp that made me chuckle and then contemplate. In large letters, "F**k all European concepts"

 

 COMMENT 198598 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 09:10 AM

Urban Hikers. This is fantastic research for Santa Barbara historians! How about creating a catalogue (using Portland's template) since you are uncovering them anyway. Volunteers from the SB Historical Museum and SB Genealogical Society can create profiles and family histories of the stampers. Then the first URBAN HIKERS GUIDE TO SANTA BARBARA will be ready to publish. How cool could THAT be!!

 

 SBALAX agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 09:15 AM

There are more horseshoe prints as you walk up the sidewalk from the Old Mission towards Bonita Way. Further along APS you will find some dog paw prints and at a couple of spots the usual "John + Mary" stuff. I often wonder how old the couples were and if they are still together. One says "Forever" so I hope so. Thanks for another great installment!

 

 COMMENT 198618 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 10:59 AM

some great street art!

 

 COMMENT 198655 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 02:10 PM

Being a native Portlander, These stamps have long fascinated me, and they still do as I take my walks around the city. Recently I settled back in the area of Portland called St. Johns, which was its own city until incorporating into Portland about 1911. As a result there are many street names that were changed in order to prevent confusion with their Portland counterparts. One was called Portland Blvd., which is now called Smith Street. Funnily enough, Portland no longer has a Portland Blvd., since its name was recently changed to Rosa Parks Boulevard!
Thank you much for the link to the Portland sidewalk information, which I didn't know was there!

 

 SLIPROCK9 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-07-31 06:03 PM

Hi Urban Hikers,
While you are out looking at sidewalks, maybe you could document how many streets still have stone curb sides. There aren't many left, mostly downtown and on streets which have not been disturbed by bulbouts and so on. The City (or the company who works on the streets/sidewalks) seems to want them gone. Once gone they are never put back. -------------Native

 

 COMMENT 198757P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-08-01 07:55 AM

Slip rocks -the city of SB saves all the sandstone curbs & reuses them to fill in areas where it is missing , such as driveways removed after original sidewalk was installed. The focus is on the streets within the historic districts, but they try to save them wherever they are.

 

65% of comments on this page were made by Edhat Community Members.

 

 

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