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Toynbee Tiles

- Cosmo - Wednesday, August 30th, 2006 : goo

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There's a strange phenonemon, tinged with urban legend but real nonetheless, consisting of mysterious tiles embedded in the pavement of major cities throughout the U.S. and in some other world cities: . I am aware of two reported to be located in :

image 15064
At the intersection of Randolf and Congress, see it there in the crosswalk?
Next is a close up of that tile:

image 15065

The other tile was located at Woodward and Larned, see it in this next photo, again in the crosswalk:
image 15062

And a close up of the Woodward/Larned tile:

image 15063

Last time I checked the Woodward/Larned one is no longer visible, either paved over or torn out during some road maintenance. I don't know if the Randolf/Congress tile is still there.

For some explanation, such as is possible for this strange topic, check the following:

This article has been viewed 20126 times in the last 10 years

jack: good find.

Peter: 30th Aug 2006 - 13:21 GMT

ive seen these in nyc before, and always wondered what the backstory was... thanks for sharing, and thanks for that wiki link!

groovehouse: 30th Aug 2006 - 13:45 GMT

Very cool! Thanks for the photos and wiki link! I had no idea these existed!

EvilGentleman: 30th Aug 2006 - 14:37 GMT

Imagine filling all the potholes around here with tiles like this. Cool.

JJ: 30th Aug 2006 - 15:50 GMT

Excellent pics!

I'm so glad to see Toynbee Tiles here on citynoise. I heard about them a couple of months ago and came here looking for pics. I hope to see more from other cities too.

Cosmo: 30th Aug 2006 - 16:25 GMT

The tiles seem to be disappearing due to cities fixing up their old roads...I'm so glad I got these images of the Detroit ones, so far as I know no one else has published images of these. (I sent these photos to so the site could add them to the Detroit text, but it seems that site hasn't been updated in years.)

I hope the remaining tiles are documented before they vanish. We should get on the case. Check and if you live in city on the list go see if your tiles are still there. And get the photos!

Cosmo: 31st Aug 2006 - 16:01 GMT

Wow, Peter, excellent find! I see from their photo gallery that there might have been a third tile in Detroit that I didn't know about. Also, there is at least one "new school" tiler out there keeping the tradition alive with new tiles in Philadelphia.

chrissy: 20th Oct 2006 - 14:43 GMT

I always walk past the one near the Hancock Building in Chicago and wondered what the story was. Thanks for the info!

EvilGentleman: 7th May 2007 - 07:56 GMT

I'm surprised this article has not been more popular. One of the best, if you ask me.

Peter: yeah, i love this post too...

Edward: 14th Apr 2008 - 20:41 GMT

The tiles originally appeared in Philadelphia. The tagger is widely thought to live about 22nd and Walnut Streets. In philadelphia there are hundreds of the tags as well as newer ghost like creatures(think strawbery, vanilla, chocolate ghost from Scooby-doo). I think the sheer number as well as up-to date cycle in Philly, lends credence to this being the place where the tagger lives. The toynbee tags i Philadelphia get refreshed constantly.(reported cities:Philadelphia, detroit, new York, Lima, Buenos Aires, LA, San Francisco, Miami) Add 'em if you've seen them.

Bosco: 24th May 2012 - 02:57 GMT

I just saw the movie. Pretty cooky stuff. So anyway.... It's 11pm at night and I had to see one for myself. I thought the movie was a mocumentary until I saw the credits! I'm sitting at the corner of Randolph and Congress and I'm sad to say that it's gone. They have clearly redone the roads over here. The crosswalk paint is newer and looks very different than the pics above. I even walked the crosswalk looking for remnants to no avail.

Sean: 20th Jun 2012 - 21:50 GMT

I went on a bicycle ride today to find all of tiles in Detroit. I'm here to report that there are no more tiles here.

daniel: congress and randolf is still there

Stephen: 3rd Nov 2012 - 06:46 GMT

I just found a new tile today, on Fort and Washington.

Jakob: 5th Dec 2012 - 21:54 GMT

just saw the film last night. i was working downtown today and decided to look around, could not find the one on congress, but did see the house of hades tile at fort & washington

Caity: Any pictures of this new tile?? :)

Toynbe: 27th Feb 2013 - 01:12 GMT

Was the creator a mad man or a genius awww who the fuck am I kidding he a wack job

Fly: 24th Mar 2013 - 04:15 GMT


Toynbee Addikt: 28th Apr 2013 - 19:57 GMT

Saw two House of Hades tiles in downtown Detroit today. The first was a surprise at the east crossing of State Street at the intersection of Griswold. image 50940 The Second is from Fort Street and Washington which is located in the north crossing of Washington. image 50941

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