Posted on August 21, 2006
only by destruction of the…
Word out of Chicago is that Toynbee tiles are being actively sought out and destroyed. Is this some sort of Hellion conspiracy against the movement? If it is, the perpetrators aren’t admitting to it.
“…the Toynbee tiles are vandalism against public property.” Wrote City of Chicago Department of Transportation’s Director of Communications, Brian Steele when asked for a statement. “…But their impact is more than aesthetic. Roadway pavement markings, governed by federal standards, are intended to provide direction to drivers and pedestrians. Any unauthorized pavement markings could be confusing or potentially jeopardize safety. Additionally, installation of the tiles can damage the pavement surface and possibly lead to premature deterioration and additional repair costs.”
So there you have it. Apparently the tiles are too distracting and destructive for Chicago streets. Technically he’s correct about the distracting part (not sure where the studies are that examined the impact of linoleum based mosaic pressed into asphalt, but I would definitely like to read them!) but as distractions go, I’d say they rank pretty low. City streets tend to be distracting. That’s pretty much what defines them. Generally the more distractions you have the better. You got stores and cars and billboards and newsstands and people (many of whom dress to distract) and music and car horns and sirens and colors and lights and all sorts of crazy shit flying around all over the place.
Toynbee tiles are noticed by very few and cared about by even less… unlike say, a 20 by 30’ billboard of a half naked woman stroking a bottle of Smirnoff ice that some slick dude in an open shirt is holding provocatively between his legs while they dance in some shitty fictional nightclub.
But anyway, I accept CDOT’s reasoning – it is their job to do exactly what they did – but I can’t say that I agree with them. It reminds me of those poor assholes whose job it is to chase people out of the fountain at Logan Circle in 100+ summer heat. Yes it says no swimming, but do we really need a full-time guard stationed menacingly in a park-police cruiser solely to enforce a pointless law and snub out an enduring Philly tradition? But I was talking about the tiles.
The tiler reserved his largest and most carefully constructed tiles for the countries largest cities, New York and Chicago. Today there’s only 1 known tile left in New York (possibly after a similar campaign of destruction) and none in Chicago. A tile’s life is finite to begin with. To purposefully remove them seems like a waste of time, resources and tax dollars… not to mention just being a shitty thing to do. O’well. That’s all for now.