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On 'Toynbee tiles'

This tile, formerly embedded into the pavement on Porter Avenue, includes a line from a short story by Ray Bradbury.

In my recent tour of Buffalo street art -- the results of which where were published on Sunday in a story that merely scratched the surface of the city's slowly growing street art scene -- I came across several tiles embedded into the pavement at various crosswalks around town. I described these pieces, some of which are referred to as "Toynbee tiles," as "chiseled into the pavement." But an anonymous emailer informed me otherwise yesterday. Here's that emailer's more accurate representation -- perhaps gleaned from firsthand experience, perhaps not -- of how the tiles are integrated into the streets: "Toynbee" tiles are not chiseled into the street; but rather are made out of pieces of vinyl (even a vinyl floor tile), which is then laid upon the street and covered with black tape (fabric works best) so as to hide the new tile and keep it in place while the pressure of vehicles pushes it into the asphalt and eventually wears the tape away.

Fascinating stuff. Keep your eyes peeled for more of these tiles, which exist in many well-traveled areas around the city.

--Colin Dabkowski



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