There have been many questions over the years about why we have so many potholes in our streets and isn’t there a different material roads could be built out of? Well, in the early part of the 20th century, there was a different material used and it appears to have stood the test of time- bricks.
According to an article in today’s Spokesman-Review, There are 40 blocks of exposed brick streets in Spokane, most built in 1910 and 1911. More than 380 acres of brick line the streets of the lower South Hill and Browne’s Addition. More are hidden under layers of asphalt.
According to City of Spokane engineers, the brick roads are in good shape and brick would still be used for paving if snowplows or studded tires didn’t exist, or if manholes weren’t needed, and if brick weren’t so expensive. It is also expensive to lay brick. The cost of asphalt is approximately $4 per square foot, compared for $10 for brick.
Bricks used after the fire of 1889 to rebuild the city and to pave the roads came from all over the region, but also from the now-defunct brickyard at the site of today’s Cannon Hill Park. The brickyard went out of business in 1910 and the city was gifted the land two years later.
Today there is no formal policy protecting the brick streets, but workers do try to avoid digging them up.