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As a Cambridge real estate agent, the city squares of Cambridge, Somerville and Medford and the town centers of Arlington, Watertown and Belmont, Massachusetts are my home turf. And as a lifelong New Englander who’s lived within twenty miles of Boston most of my life, I can introduce you to other nearby towns as we search for your new home. If you’re planning to sell your home in Cambridge, MA or nearby you’ll find plenty of info about the home selling process here too. Questions? Send me an email or call me at 617-504-1737.

Vintage Paving Company Markers

Cambridge Mass Vintage Paving Company Marker

Cambridge Mass Vintage Paving Company Marker

Vintage Paving Company Markers ~ It’s funny sometimes, the things that start to catch your eye that suddenly start popping up everywhere.

For me, one of those things are the old metal markers that are set into concrete sidewalks.  I love them!  As I make my way around Cambridge, Arlington, Medford and other nearby towns I’ve started to photograph any I come across.

Who knew that concrete sidewalks are so durable?  The oldest plaque that I’ve found so far is the clover-shaped marker dated 1907 by the Simpson Bros. Corporation of 166 Devonshire Street in Boston.

Other paving company markers I’ve found include:

  • Benj. Fox, Inc., Concrete Construction, 15 Exchange St, Boston
  • F.O. White Construction Co., Cambridge
  • Thomas J. Hind, 19 Milk Street, Boston
  • Vulcan Const. Co., General Contractors, Boston, Mass.
  • W.A. Murtfeldt Company, Artificial Stone Walks, 161 Devonshire St, Boston
  • Wm. F. Condon, Artificial Stone, 218 Putnam Ave, Cambridge, Mass.

I think most of these miniature plaques are made of bronze. And it still seems to be a practice of paving companies to inset a company marker.  A house near my office had a newly constructed cement sidewalk and a metal plate with the company’s name was inset. It was a messy job though – the marker, not the sidewalk – and the sense of pride that these older signs exude was absent.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot written about these intriguing little signs.  Someone has taken the time to extensively document the sidewalk markers in Buffalo, NY where the metal plates date from 1885 to the 1920s but I’ve yet to find much else.

If you know anything more about these vintage paving company markers please let me know.

Categories: Everything Else

  1. liz

    Just wanted to thank you for this post. I found it when doing a Google search on the Simpson Bros. clover marker, which I frequently pass. I really enjoyed reading it, and also looking at the photos on the Buffalo page you linked. It would be interesting if someone took a census of the markers in metro Boston like they did in Buffalo.

  2. Elizabeth Bolton

    Hi Liz ~ Glad you stumbled upon it! I’ve become fascinated with the markers and was surprised to find so little online about them. Isn’t the Buffalo survey great? I agree – it would be an excellent project for somebody around here. I’ve found some more markers and will upload more photos when I get a chance.


  3. Pierce

    Do you recall where you found the Benjamin Fox marker? I am researching him at the moment and would love to see it in person…..

  4. Elizabeth Bolton

    Hi Pierce ~ I went through loads of my saved photos to see if I could zero in on it with not much luck. My guess would be Avon Hill in Cambridge or maybe around Brattle Street. Almost all of them were found in Cambridge with maybe one or two from Arlington or Somerville.

    I will keep my eyes peeled and if I figure out where it is I’ll let you know.

  5. CM

    Here I have a complaint about Medford square
    Here years ago I use to like walking the sidewalk but
    Now here at every corners there is those bumps of the sidewalks and here I
    Feel bad for the elderly and the handicap but here
    For what they did to Medford square sidewalks
    It kills the bottom of my feet I liked Medford square the way it use to be
    And here I have a disability and I am so afraid that while walking
    On the sidewalk I may lose my balance and fall
    As it is my mom walks with a walker and I don’t want her
    To break her hip. She broke her hip in the house I don’t need her to break her other hip
    So can you please put the old sidewalk like the way it use to be because I do feel for the
    Elderly what will happen when we get snow that part at the end of the sidewalk that would be covered with snow and ice and I am just afraid that somebody that is elderly or handicap will fall and hurt themselves
    I hope you will reply to my email because I am afraid of falling with the way Medford square
    And especially where the kids now ride there bikes on the sidewalks so actually there really isn’tmuch room to walk on the sidewalk. So if you know who I can send a email about Medford square sidewalk I would appreciate it if you can tell me or you can send this letter to whoever did these sidewalks because I can nearly walk now without me crying in walking home
    Thank you
    And I really do hope I get to hear good news about they are doing Medford square all over again like it use to be

  6. tony gentile

    in my early years in construction.i was a heavy equipment operator.at the time i was involved in the excavation of sidewalks and roadways in and around the boston area.during that time i accumalated quite a few of these plaques.everyone i came across i broke out of the concrete and kept.i even embedded them in my pool deck.i kept them because i felt they were a part of americana when people were proud of the work they did.i dont know of any collectors of these plaques.the only way you would be able to collect them would be in reconstruction projects you would be involved in.if anyone has info.or would like to see my collection,let me know. tony

  7. John McCune

    There are 3 Simpson Bros. shamrock style brass markers (1906) very close together in downtown Boston. A very worn down one on the westerly side of Harrison Ave Exd. The other two are on the southerly sidewalk of Hayward Place. ( there are also some for sale on ebay , type in “brass sidewalk marker”.

  8. Craig Clarke

    Howdy. I’m one of the people who helped put together that page of Buffalo sidewalk markers.

    Buffalo seems to have had more than any other town I know of, but there are reportedly some in Ft. Wayne, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and a town in CT which I forget at the moment.

    I live in the San Francisco area now and there is only one company with bronze markers in the city, and only two or three examples of their marker known.

    I have long wanted to travel to Mass. to visit the markers there, the “collection” of which is second only to Buffalo’s.

    I make reproductions on plaques and have always wanted to visit MA to have access to some originals for the approx 1 hour it takes to create my master from them.

    I’m poor though so that’s unlikely to happen.


  9. Robert

    I love these! I had taken a few cell phone photos of them when I first saw on in Chinatown, Boston.
    Thanks for posting!

  10. Sharon Nunez

    Does anyone know where I could purchase some in-sidewalk markers. In celebrating our bicentennial, I would like to have a few placed around town. Thanks.

  11. Bruce Irving

    Hi Liz! I love these things too–testaments from a time when craftsmanship was a given and pride of authorship was written in metal. I came across a Wm. F. Condon plaque the other day, however, and I felt bad to see that it had the company’s address as Putman (rather than Putnam) Avenue, Cambridge. Retroactive rebate please!

  12. John McCune

    A new sidewalk marker discovery while out walking. There are 2 brass sidewalk markers on the westerly side of Court Square which is off Court Street in downtown Boston (on the sidewalk beside The Oceanaire Seafood Room). Markers say:

    Built by
    Tufo & Yebba Inc.
    Granolithic Work
    Boston Ma

  13. B P James

    My father-in-law was in heavy construction and completed some beautiful historical home restorations. As my fiancé and I were going through his collections in his estate, we came across a sidewalk marker he must have collected on one of his projects. A shamrock marker “Laid by Simpson Bros Corporation” – 166 Devonshire St. with a year – 18?9 (it could be 1899, 1839 or 1809)? Very neat. I was excited to come across your site and learn what it was and see Tony’s comment above to learn his father had probably picked this up on one of his own projects. Would love to learn more – and will have to keep an eye out for these markers as I’m walking around Boston now. Amazing how you can walk by history and take for granted all of the hard work that went into building the foundations in these cities we get to enjoy today. 😉

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