Streets and Sidewalks

The view below shows the road between Smith Music Hall and the Foreign Languages Building, looking west toward Foellinger Auditorium. The road is paved with asphalt (also called asphalt concrete, tarmac, or blacktop), which is a combination of bitumen (a sticky, semi-solid form of petroleum) plus sand or gravel.

Street and sidewalk

Two kinds of pavement

By contrast, the sidewalks consist of concrete – a mixture of sand, powdered limestone for cement (from places such as Thornton Quarry south of Chicago), and water. Concrete may be poured and smoothed for a walkway or shaped into masonry blocks for construction. It may even be used for benches such as the ones pictured next to the Foreign Languages Building.

Left to right:

Closeup of sidewalk

Thornton quarryAsphalt closeupBitumen source rock




  1. Closeup view of concrete sidewalk
  2. Thornton Quarry near Chicago – source of cement and gravel
  3. Closeup view of asphalt pavement
  4. Boulder of Kentucky Rock Asphalt, with tar seeping out from cracks

Further details about asphalt and concrete


Image selection and text by Eileen A. Herrstrom 2014