A Plea for Asphalt

At the turn of the century, Post editors saw a dangerous trend in stately old trees being cut down to make way for paved roads, and responded with this sardonic editorial.

Construction worker laying down asphalt over an old road

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At the turn of the century, Post editors saw a dangerous trend in stately old trees being cut down to make way for paved roads, and responded with this sardonic editorial.

That a healthy sentiment in favor of asphalt in place of trees is arising in the minds of political leaders is shown by the demolition of what some sentimentalist has called “noble old elms.” Every few days we read of an enlightened city government that has “ruthlessly” swept away a long row of trees.

What has made Central Park the success that it has been? It’s the asphalt walks that make the simultaneous trundling of a baby carriage and an innocent flirtation perfectly feasible. But let us go further; let us cut up the sod of the common and let in a sea of asphalt, and we will have a paradise for roller-skating, carriage trundling, and bicycling.

Let the endless avenues of elms that “adorn” some of our cities be cut down, and let in the glad sunlight and the merry asphalt.

Give us asphalt!

—“A Plea for Asphalt,” editorial by Charles Battell Loomis, December 9, 1899

This article is featured in the May/June 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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