What Is A Nicolson Pavement?

What Is A Nicolson Pavement?

What Is A Nicolson Pavement?

Nicolson pavement is a type of road surface material made of wooden blocks. It was invented by Samuel Nicolson in the mid-19th century and was originally seen as a preferable alternative to cobblestone streets due to its smooth surface, low cost, and abundance of wood as a building material.

However, Nicolson pavement has since fallen out of favor due to its poor surface quality, high maintenance costs, and tendency to become slippery when wet or icy. Additionally, the blocks are prone to rotting, decay, and heaving due to moisture seepage, and when treated with creosote to increase their lifespan, the pavement gives off an unpleasant smell.

Nicolson pavement was the subject of a Supreme Court case, City of Elizabeth v. American Nicholson Pavement Co., which ruled that while the public use of an invention typically invalidates the inventor’s right to a patent, there is an exception for public uses for experimental purposes..

Benefits Of A Nicolson Pavement

Nicolson pavement is a superior option to stone and is more durable, economical, and easier to maintain. It consists of leveling or rounding off the ground in order to fit with the grade before covering it evenly with a layer of sand.

The sand forms a solid foundation for asphalt, concrete slabs, and other materials that are laid on top of the foundation. This helps reduce noise levels and improve the drainage system.

Nicolson pavement provides better resilience against wear and tear from vehicles, pedestrians, and weathering due to its higher level of protection compared to stone. Overall, it is an effective solution for providing long-lasting pavement that is also cost-efficient.

Installation Process

The installation process of a Nicolson pavement is relatively straightforward and simple. The Nicolson pavement was made using wooden blocks that measured 4 by 5 inches in width and were 12 to 15 inches long.

These blocks were placed on a sand foundation and arranged loosely on their 4-inch side. Stringer boards were then placed on top of the sand base, and the wooden blocks were placed on the stringer boards. The spaces between the blocks were filled with a mixture of gravel and coal tar.

Once these steps have been completed, the pavement can be placed over and compacted with a vibratory plate. The final step is to apply an appropriate sealant to protect the surface from moisture damage. Following this process ensures that you will have a safe and durable Nicolson pavement for many years to come.

Maintaining A Nicolson Pavement

Maintaining a Nicolson pavement is important to ensuring its longevity. Proper upkeep includes cleaning, filling any cracks that form, and replacing or repairing any loose stones or slabs. Additionally, vegetation should be removed from the paved areas as it can cause damage to the asphalt and make the surface slippery when wet.

It’s also important to keep traffic in mind when maintaining a Nicolson pavement – if a large amount of vehicles are present on the road, then regular inspections should be carried out to ensure that no further damage has been caused by this increased traffic.

Remnants OF Nicolson Pavement

There are several cities in the United States that still have remnants of Nicolson pavement, a type of wooden street. One example is Roslyn Place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is completely paved with wooden blocks and is known as the only remaining wooden street in the United States.

In addition, patches of creosoted wooden block pavement can be found in St. Louis, Missouri, and there are at least three alleys in Chicago, Illinois that still use wood block pavement, though some of them are in poor condition.

The 200 block of Camac Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is also paved with wooden blocks and is protected as a historic site. Hessler Court in Cleveland, Ohio, which is known for its street fair, also maintains its Nicolson Pavement for historic reasons.

In 2009, a series of wood block pavers were installed on Wall Street in New York City, following the path of the Dutch wooden defense wall that gave the street its name.


In conclusion, the Nicolson pavement is a special type of block paving system that uses wooden blocks in an interlocking pattern. It offers many advantages such as easy installation and its superior durability.

This makes it an ideal choice for areas where extra strength and reliability are desired, such as driveways and pathways. With its endless flexibility and stunning design options, the Nicolson pavement provides a great opportunity for anyone who wants to upgrade their outdoor spaces with a reliable and attractive solution.






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