That Hollow Feeling

April 29, 2009
Publication: Structure Magazine p 8-10
Author(s): Vatovec, Milan Kelley, Paul L. Tumialan, J. Gustavo

Abstract: A city sidewalk might not be as simple as it appears - it depends on your perspective. Many pedestrians do not expect that the common sidewalk they walk on might be hollow. But hollow sidewalks are common in many older cities; the sidewalk was the early loading dock through which the building was stocked with supplies via a sidewalk hatch. In these older buildings, the basement extends beyond the footprint of the building and under the city sidewalks. The "vault" space under the sidewalk ends with a concrete or masonry wall that retains the soil beneath the street. And frequently, the sidewalk over the vault, the only barrier preventing people and vehicles from falling into the basement, is badly deteriorated and unsafe (Figure 1).