Vintage Tyler, Texas: Watch the Beautiful Red Brick Streets Being Built
May is Preservation Month.
I've lived in Tyler for most of my life. There are many things I enjoy about living here. The people are (mostly) friendly, we have great local businesses, and let's face it our spring flowers are among the most beautiful anywhere.
Another one of my favorite things about Tyler are those iconic downtown Tyler red brick streets. I always get a sense of the history of Tyler when I see them. They've become a signature part of the aesthetic. (Although I don't advocate running in heels on them but that's another story).
And although I adore the upgrades and some of the modernization happening in Tyler and all around East Texas, I wouldn't trade the red brick streets of Tyler in a million years.
And I'm not the only one. East Texans love them so much, Tyler has created an area known as the 'Brickstreet District.' According to Historic Tyler, Inc., "the district encompasses 29 blocks of mid-19th century to mid-20th century residential, commercial and institutional development." And visitors to East Texas love them, too.
Speaking of years... do you know what year the red brick streets were built? Well, that may be difficult to answer, because they were built over quite a few number of years. The first brick streets were laid as early as 1912 according to data made available by the City of Tyler. And through the years more and more were added through 1947.
And today, they are still structurally sound. Which is in itself impressive when we consider how often we have to improve our more modern roads.
But building them wasn't as simple as just laying the bricks down and gluing them together. It was a process that began with a base made of several inches of concrete. Over that, the builders added a layer of sand to give the streets a bit more "give" for passing cars.
On top of that layer, the bricks were added. Then they poured black hot tar over them, which aided in sealing the bricks. Finally they're were "dusted" with more sand.
So, why aren't the bricks black? Over time, that black finish just wore off, leaving that classic red brick color we know so well.