Origins of Asphalt Paving

Asphalt has been around in its present form since the early 20th century.  However, history can trace the use of asphalt all the way back to the Roman Empire days as a means for making roads for travel.  Other uses for asphalt included a binding substance for shells or pearls to put in statues or preservation purposes for mummies.  It was also used for joining brick together or for waterproofing the hulls of ships.  But just what are the origins of asphalt and how did we come to use it for roads, driveways, and asphalt paving in Shakopee, MN?

Who Invented Asphalt?

Asphalt can trace its roots back to the Mesopotamian times when they would use asphalt to waterproof bathtubs and ships. Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans also used asphalt as a sealant.  Professor Edward J. de Smelt is credited as inventing modern road asphalt at Columbia University in 1870.  After the modern-day invention, the next major milestone for Asphalt didn’t really appear until July 29 of 1970, where asphalt was also used to pave William Street in Newark, New Jersey.  Battery Park and Fifth Avenue. These were the first streets in New York to be paved with asphalt.  Five years later, 54,000 square yards of asphalt was laid down on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C.

Where Did the Term Asphalt Come From?

The word asphalt stems from the Greek word asphaltos, which means “secure”.  It is made from the processing of crude oil and consists of asphalt binder and mineral aggregate that can form a sticky, secure substance we use on roads today.

Where Does Asphalt Come From?

One common myth is that asphalt is a type of “tar”.  This is false.  Asphalt is a natural, sticky and elastic substance that can stretch and bend without breaking.  It has amazing properties such as the ability to repel water, which is why it is often used for waterproofing.  At room temperature, it is a very thick liquid but it when heated, it becomes thinner and easier to work with.  While asphalt is naturally occurring in places such as a lake in Trinidad and in the La Brea in downtown Los Angeles, most of the asphalt we use today comes from petroleum crude oil.  Liquid asphalt is the heavy parts that are left after everything else is distilled off for gasoline.

When Did They Start Paving Roads in the U.S.?

In America today, most of our roads are paved with asphalt concrete.  One of the first roads ever paved was the famous Champs-Élysées in Paris in the 1600s.  By the 1800s, asphalt paving had come to America.  Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. was among one of the first paving projects in America.

Asphalt is popular today and is used for many driveways as well as roads.  If you have an asphalt driveway that is in need of asphalt maintenance in Shakopee, MN or asphalt repair in Shakopee, MN, LSC Construction Services is your go-to company for all your asphalt needs.  As winter approaches, we also recommend sealcoating in Shakopee, MN.  Give us a call today to schedule your service as we are happy to help.

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