I didn’t set out to turn this into a project, but occasionally as time goes by you see things emerge, and then you turn a curiosity into something a bit more solid. Basically, I started walking to get more exercise about two years ago, and as I was walking I would sometimes see an old sidewalk square stamp. I saw a 1956 near my house and thought that was cool. I saw some really beautiful stamps, and some ugly ones (from a design standpoint) and I would share some of them online, mostly on Facebook after returning from my daily walk.
At some point someone asked me about locations, and I realized that since I take all the photos with my mobile phone the location data is embedded in every file. Sadly, the social media platforms typically strip this data, and even if they didn’t I don’t know that they have a good way of showing the data. I use Piwigo for my photo gallery, so I put all the photos there, and was able to add a map. I’d like to show location data on each photo page, but I’m still working on that.
For now though, you can view the photos, download them, see the geo coords in the file, and view the map. (Note that on a mobile device you need to switch to “Desktop” view. (Something else to fix in the future I guess.)
As of this posting date (2023-08-20) this is the list of years I’ve captured (the blue text with a strikethrough). I still have not completed a full decade, though I am close. The great majority of these are within walking distance of my house, though there are a few from Bay View and Downtown, but most are around Enderis Park, Cooper Park, Lenox Heights, and the surrounding areas.
I would prefer to have stamps that are in Milwaukee, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. I’ve been avoiding stamps that say Wauwatosa, which is difficult because I live near the edge of Tosa and walk there all the time. I also don’t limit it to one of each year, and I’ll grab the same year if it’s a different stamp or really unique (or well designed) stamp. (I definitely still want to get all the missing years!)
I’ve also heard from others who say “I keep looking at the stamps when I walk around!” or people will send me photos of stamps (or plates!) they’ve come across. One friend asked if I need to get the photo, and I said that while I really love people sharing with me, I do want to actually see a sidewalk stamp in person and capture the photo. I also encourage others to create their own record.
So, yeah… that’s the thing that has become The Sidewalk Project which is a name I just came up with while writing this post. Let me know what you think.