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Re: letter "E" in downtown granite curb

[Post Followup] [San Francisco History Board]

Posted by Richard on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 12:42:07 :

In Reply to: letter "E" in downtown granite curb posted by Richard on Monday, March 09, 2009 at 12:49:11 :

: I've notice the letter "E" carved into a number of downtown curbstones.

: Any idea what this letter designates?

: I thought it might be a quarry mark, but haven't been able to identify a quarry from the period with a significant "E" in the name.

Thanks to an email from Peri Cosseboom, I have the answer in spades ... and it was SO obvious:

"The "E", "T" and on curbs downtown represent the approximate point where underground electrical and telephone ducts crossed the cubline and entered the building that they served. "WU" represented Western Union" telegraph crossings but are quite rare. My recollection is that Western Union maintained active overhead lines downtown until the early 80's. "G" represents gas lines, but is also uncommon.

These marks date back to just after the '06 quake when undergrounding electrical and telephone lines was uncommon and having marks of this sort to indicate the point of service was useful.

The "T" & E" marks when found on the curved parts of curbs at street intersections (curb returns) do not represent crossings, but are reference points for the location of telephone/electrical manholes. The company involved would measure from 2 of these marks (on opposite curbs) to a manhole. Crossing 2 tapes at the recorded measurements would locate a buried manhole. These record measurements are now also obsolete.

These marks are also found in subdivisions created just after WW1, (e.g.. Forrest Hills) where the utilities were undergrounded for ascetic reasons. The practice was discontinued soon thereafter when utility undergrounding became more common and when infrastructure records became more accurate.

"W" & "S" are found everywhere in the City, representing water line and sewer lateral crossings. The "S" is most commonly found on the "armored curbs" constructed in the neighborhoods by the WPA during the depression, but they can occur anywhere. The "W" seems to only appear on granite curbs and thus predate about 1930. Again, accurate infrastructure mapping made their use obsolete."

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