Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/205

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AMERICAN AND FOREIGN ASPHALTS.

New York city can boast of only a few small and isolated strips of asphaltic street pavement, her past experience with the "poultice pavement" having induced the authorities to prohibit the laying of similar pavements. In front of the Brevoort House, and the Hotel Brunswick, samples of compressed pavement may be seen, while the American mastic, or Trinidad, has recently been laid in Fifteenth Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. In Washington, D. C, more than forty miles of the last-named pavement have been put down, and it is said to be doing good service. There are a large number of the mastic sidewalk and court-yard pavements in this city, some of which have already been referred to.

The advantages claimed for asphalt pavements are cleanliness, noiselessness, and durability, while the wear and tear of horses and wagons is less, and they are the pleasantest of all pavements to ride on. On the other hand, they are often slippery, and horses are liable to fall on them, while they are more difficult to repair when broken in digging for water and other pipes, although it is said that water-pipes are less liable to freeze under asphalt than under other pavements.

Asphalt does not emit sparks when struck with steel, and therefore is useful for the flooring of powder-magazines, and of casemates in fortifications.

As damp-proof coating for vaults and cellar-walls it is invaluable, for, not only does it shut out damp from below, but prevents unhealthy exhalations of the soil from entering the dwelling.

Asphalt has been used as flooring in stables, although there has been some complaint that it is cut by the stamping of the animals. It would seem to be an excellent material for the purpose, as it is unacted upon by urine, and, being without cracks, prevents the liquids from passing through and saturating the earth beneath. It is in use in the stables of the American Horse Exchange, Fifty-sixth Street and Broadway.

Asphalt floors have found more extensive use in breweries and sugar-refineries, for which they seem perfectly adapted. It is frequently applied to cellar-bottoms in city houses, some careful citizens having covered their cement floors with asphalt mastic.

A method of laying floors is much used in France, for barracks and hospitals, which would probably answer for many other purposes. Pieces of oak, usually two and a half to four inches broad, twelve to thirty inches long, and one inch thick, are pressed down into a layer of hot asphalt, not quite half an inch thick, in herring-bone pattern. The edges of the blocks are planed down, beveling toward the bottom, thus insuring adhesion to the asphalt, and the smallest possible joints.

A coarse sort of canvas saturated with bitumen is used to prevent dampness from rising through capillary attraction and penetrating the walls of buildings, especially light-houses and marine structures. It is