Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Follow the Red Brick Road

I live on Grand Avenue on the west side of Des Moines. I work on Grand Avenue on the east side of the city. So everyday I drive Grand the entire 15 miles (yeah I'm spoiled) that it takes me to cross the city and get from home to office. Des Moines is a small city, in both population and size.

Grand Avenue though is picturesque. It's one of the prettier streets in the city, passing by some fantastic historical mansions, gorgeous churches, a college, and even the Governor's mansion. I pass some beautiful architecture on my commute.

The street is being resurfaced right now though. For about fifteen to twenty blocks it is what the city calls "rough road". That means that all the smooth asphalt has been stripped away and the road has been graded. It's a bouncy couple of blocks. But when I was driving in this morning I noticed something that I hadn't before. Under all the asphalt is brick. Grand was once a brick road.

I'm not sure why that surprises me. It's one of the oldest streets in the city. And brick paving was the only paving for nearly a century. But I'd never seen the bricks. I never thought about how beautiful the street would have looked paved with those even square red bricks. The masonry work is very good, very even (at least of what I can see). All this got me thinking though about all the history that is buried right under my feet. Not just on Grand but in general. I'm standing on centuries of history every moment. Each piece of land has a story to tell. I'm not sure why I never noticed.

All these years of driving down Grand, twice a day, and I never thought about how it had been paved before. I wish I had seen it totally brick paved. It would have been stunning. But I'm glad I got to see those bits of bricks. They made the rough road worth it.


Skem said...

Check out the stop sign at 15th and Woodland. You can see the old streetcar tracks in the rough road. :)

Cat B said...

Thanks Skem! :)

At your suggestion I drove past on my way home. That is so cool. I didn't even know that DM had a streetcar. It was so cool to drive over them. I kind of hope they would leave them.