Pearson | Asphalters

Ralph M. Pearson (American, 1883-1958)

Asphalters, from the series Chicago, Toilers of the City (c. 1911)

Etching, 11 x 8”

June and Norman Kraeft American Prints Fund, 2002.30

Better Than Mud

Early urban streets were fly-invested, dusty, mucky, and strewn with horse manure. Pavements came later as progress, a sequence from cobblestone, to brick, to asphalt, and finally to concrete. These asphalters are packing and smoothing bitumen, a hot, tarry, viscous mix of petroleum residues and mineral aggregate into the street. Note electric lines and a trolley in the background.