country of origin: china
export country: europe / usa / japan
cobblestones are stones used in the pavement of early streets. smooth stones were usually taken from riverbeds and cobbled (roughly assembled). they are typically either set in sand or similar material, or are bound together with mortar. paving with cobblestones allows a road to be heavily used all year long. it prevents the buildup of ruts often found in dirt roads. it has the additional beneficial advantage of not getting muddy in wet weather and dusty in dry weather. a disadvantage is that when compared with modern surfaces, cobblestone paving is quite loud with carriage wheels, horse hooves and modern automobiles.
italian cobblestone-covered street in isola bellacobblestones set in sand have the environmental advantage of being permeable paving, and of flexing (rather than cracking) with movements in the ground.
cobblestoned streets gradually gave way to macadam roads, and later to tarmac, and finally to asphalt at the beginning of the 20th century. however, cobblestones are often retained in historic areas, even for streets with vehicular traffic. many older villages and cities in europe still are paved with cobblestones. in recent decades cobblestones have become a popular material for paving newly pedestrianised streets in europe.
in new york city many of the older streets are paved in cobblestones, however, many streets have been paved over with asphalt, which cracks and erodes away from heavy traffic, thus revealing the original stone pavement. also, utilities, such as conedison often dig up a street and don't bother replacing the stones. residents of new york city suburbs have been known to steal the stones off from streets and parks for use in their gardens and driveways.
in some places such as saskatoon, saskatchewan, canada, as late as the 1990s some busy intersections still showed cobblestones through worn down sections of pavement. the city of buenos aires, argentina, richly influenced by many european architectural features, is well known for its many cobblestone streets, still operational and in good condition. they are still maintained and repaired the old fashion way, by placing and arranging granite stones by hand.