I love discovering interesting sidewalk stamps pressed into the concrete sidewalks of Denver. But every time I see one of these City Sidewalk Co. stamps, I can’t help but start singing the Christmas song, “Silver Bells”.
As the song goes, soon it will be Christmas day. So in honor of the holidays and those city sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style, we’re going to look at some of Denver’s more interesting sidewalk stamps. Let’s call it Sidewalk Stamps – Part 2. (Part 1 can be found here.)
The City Sidewalk Co. was one of the more prevalent concrete sidewalk installers in the city. Many of their stamps are illegible today, probably because the type face they used was so narrow with little spacing between letters. De-icing salts and freeze-thaw cycling probably ruined many of their stamps. But if you see a curvy rectangle that lifts up at the left and down at the right, you’re looking at a City Sidewalk Co. sidewalk.
Another prevalent sidewalk layer was John Sandoval, who seemed to be in business between the 1960s and 1980s. I couldn’t find anything about him on the internet, but his stamp is often associated with textured concrete sidewalks, such as this wavy one below. He also did “spotted” sidewalks, with evenly placed indents every centimeter or closer.
A friend of mine told me an interesting story about John Sandoval. When she first moved into her house in West Highlands, one of her neighbors stopped by with a bottle of wine. He welcomed her to the neighborhood and pointed out the wavy sidewalk in front of her house that was paved by John Sandoval. He said John Sandoval was his uncle and the textured paving patterns were his calling card. I’ve kept that in the back of my mind, and every time I see a wavy or spotted sidewalk, it’s been stamped by John Sandoval. He clearly took pride in his work, and gave simple sidewalks a little bit of artistry.
Several sidewalk stamps reference the supplier of the concrete, along with the installer. This one was made of Ideal Portland Cement and was laid by Ford Rogers in 1962.
Another Ideal Portland stamp shows it was laid by Martin & Martin, though there is no date associated with it.
Sometimes you can find an Ideal Cement bronze plaque installed into the sidewalk all by itself. This one was laid into “spotted”-texture concrete, so it was probably laid by John Sandoval.
Ideal Portland Cement was a product of the Colorado Portland Cement Company of Portland, Colorado, a town to the east of Cañon City. (Although you may proudly think that Portland cement was invented in Portland, Colorado, the cement actually gets its name from Portland stone, quarried in England. When it was first developed in England, Portland cement was said to be similar in appearance to Portland stone. Like many towns in Colorado, Portland, Colorado was named after its primary industry. But I digress.) The Colorado Portland Cement Company was owned by Charles Boettcher, who made a fortune in mining, cement and sugar beets (an obvious sister industry to mining and cement?). You may recognize his name because his family is one of the major benefactors the Denver Botanic Gardens and donated the funds to build Boettcher Concert Hall.
Plaques are pretty rare, as most sidewalks have stamps pressed into them. I have come across a few W. Rahn Denver bronze plaques, such as the one below, but infrequently. I can’t seem to find anything about the company.
But I did find out that the Thoutt Bros. Concrete Contractors is still alive and well. This sidewalk was installed only seven years after the company was founded. I like that the stamp appears to have been made with handmade letters, rather than with machine-bought lettering.
Similarly, J. A. Conley & Son had a homemade feel to their stamp. According to Tonja Dillon Castaneda’s book, Thornton, part of the Images of America series, Jim Conley founded the J.A. Conley & Son concrete contracting company in Thornton, Colorado. They were in business from 1956 to 1977, and laid concrete sidewalks all over Thornton and the northern parts of Denver.
Finally, I had a good laugh when I came across the sidewalk stamp below. I wonder if John Oates had a concrete business too?
A quick aside: while Googling some of the concrete contractors’ names, I came across this Tumblr blog, Lain By, which documents sidewalk stamps in Capitol Hill. Check it out. It’s amazing!