In the late 1800s and early 1900s, concrete became a popular replacement for brick and wood for roads and sidewalks, and towns and cities across the U.S. began pouring new infrastructure. It was customary for the contractors building these sidewalks to proudly sign and date their work in the concrete (in fact, it’s even technically required by law in Chicago). Hundreds of these sidewalk stamps are still in place today.
The area that is now Corvallis, Oregon was first settled in 1845 and officially became incorporated in 1857. Strategically located near the Willamette River, the town grew as a stopping point for miners headed for the California Gold Rush. In the early 1900s, as the town expanded from its initial settlement in what is now Avery Park, roads and concrete sidewalks were added and proudly stamped.
In various areas around town, stamps can be found with dates ranging from 1908 through 1938, advertising the names of many different contractors. Usually in block letters and often including the year, these stamps provide a historic map of expansion into the outer areas of Corvallis.
Though sidewalk stamping is not a phenomenon unique to Corvallis, the town takes pride in this visible yet easy-to-miss aspect of its history. Tours of Corvallis often highlight these stamps, and a local website has not only categorized them but also provides an easy to use map of these and other historic markers in town.
Know Before You Go
The stamps are in various places around town. Park and walk around while looking down (carefully) and you are sure to spot one or more. Harrison Boulevard seems to have a high concentration of stamps.