From Ancient Footpaths to Modern Sidewalks: A History of Sidewalks

Homeowners and business owners in Yonkers know the importance of properly maintained sidewalks and sidewalk repairs, even if they may overlook that significance occasionally. In fact, sidewalks can be viewed as an underrated invention, and you may be surprised to hear how they originated. 

Next time you hire an experienced contractor for a sidewalk replacement or sidewalk repair, consider their history and how they've changed over the course of human history.

The Invention of Sidewalks

According to historians, the first sidewalks existed in Anatolia (present-day Turkey) in 2000 BCE, and the ancient Romans and Greeks built similar infrastructure. After the Roman Empire fell in the 5th century CE, footpaths were mostly obliterated in Europe. 

However, sidewalks returned on the continent when paved walkways were built after the Great Fire of London in 1666. Prior to the 1800s, American and European pedestrians took a great risk as they traversed city streets alongside horse-drawn carriages and carts, wagons, animals, and streetcars. 

Additionally, these pedestrians had to trod through both human and animal excrement, presenting quite a health hazard. Sidewalks didn't become a common feature of city roads until Georges-Eugene Haussmann, sponsored by Napoleon III, began rebuilding Paris in the mid-1800s. 

Haussmann widened and illuminated the streets of Paris, and these boulevards were framed with sidewalks, benches, and vegetation. With the eradication of medieval Europe's filthy roads and public health concerns, Paris sidewalks became the meeting places for elite Parisians. 

However, Haussman's spending may have been too indulgent because he fell from grace with Napoleon III in 1870, but his contribution wasn't in vain. Officials in the United States, Barcelona, and Vienna soon adopted his infrastructure model.

Modern Sidewalks

Sidewalks became common in urban areas in the 19th century, and business owners often funded their construction. Sidewalks supported commerce as street merchants and shopkeepers showed off their wares next to the road, and they also encouraged the spread of ideas and current events. Eventually, sidewalks became standardized in some cities to promote efficient and safe transportation, and sidewalks became paved areas for pedestrians only.

To continue the safety and effectiveness of sidewalks today, make sure to keep the sidewalks near your Yonkers home or commercial property in good condition and perform sidewalk repairs before trip hazards develop. If you require assistance with sidewalk repairs, a sidewalk replacement, or a DOT violation removal, contact the trained specialists at Eden Sidewalk Repair NYC.