It isn’t all facts and figures, or straightforward historical topics, here at the Dictionary of Sydney. We’ve also invited some very imaginative writers to come up with different viewpoints on the city’s history, and they have obliged us.
One is Megan Hicks, whose work you can follow at her blog Pavement Graffiti, here. She has written two entries for the Dictionary, Reading the roads and The decorated footpath. Both will inspire you to look again at the surfaces you are walking and driving on, and to wonder about the ephemeral markers that people create around them.
Of course, the ground of the city has changed over time. From leaf litter and native grasses, to dust and mud when it rained, then gravel, woodblocks, stone, concrete, asphalt and stone again, the walking and driving surfaces of Sydney have interacted with feet, shoes, hooves, wheels, rails and tyres.
Every now and then, a relic is uncovered, as when in 2010 a patch of woodblock paving was uncovered by workers who were fixing the drainage in a lane off Druitt Street. All the City History Program and Dictionary staff rushed over the road to take a look. Despite having been in the ground for over 100 years, they were still as hard as iron, as we could tell when a worker dropped one, and the clang echoed off the walls. The blocks were carefully sealed and left in place.
There are also lots of places in Sydney where the tramlines sometimes resurface through the asphalt.
What other relics might be hidden under the roads and footpaths?