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For other uses, see Asphalt (disambiguation). Note: The terms bitumen and asphalt are mostly interchangeable, Blacktop Paving Company in Southgate except where asphalt is used as a shorthand for asphalt concrete. Natural bitumen from the Dead Sea Refined asphalt The University of Queensland pitch drop experiment, demonstrating the viscosity of asphalt

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Asphalt (/ˈæsˌfɔːlt, -ˌfɑːlt/), also known as bitumen (UK English: /ˈbɪtʃəmən, ˈbɪtjʊmən/,[1] US English: /bɪˈt(j)uːmən, baɪˈt(j)uːmən/)[2] is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch. Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was also used.

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The primary use (70%) of asphalt Asphalt Hauling Companies is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete. Its other main uses are for bituminous waterproofing products, including production of roofing felt and for sealing flat roofs.

The terms “asphalt” and “bitumen” are often used interchangeably to mean both natural and manufactured forms of the substance. In American English, “asphalt” (or “asphalt cement”) is commonly used for a refined residue from the distillation process of selected crude oils. Outside the United States, the product is often called “bitumen”, and geologists worldwide often prefer the term for the naturally occurring variety. Common colloquial usage often refers to various forms of asphalt as “tar”, as in the name of the La Brea Tar Pits.

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Naturally occurring asphalt is sometimes specified by the term “crude bitumen”. Blacktop Paving Company Its viscosity is similar to that of cold molasses[6][7] while the material obtained from the fractional distillation of crude oil boiling at 525 °C (977 °F) is sometimes referred to as “refined bitumen”. The Canadian province of Alberta has most of the world’s reserves of natural asphalt in the Athabasca oil sands, which cover 142,000 square kilometres (55,000 sq mi), an area larger than England.

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The word “asphalt” is derived from the late Middle English, in turn from French asphalte, based on Late Latin asphalton, asphaltum, which is the latinisation of the Greek ἄσφαλτος (ásphaltos, ásphalton), a word meaning “asphalt/bitumen/pitch” which perhaps derives from ἀ-, “without” and σφάλλω (sfallō), “make fall”.  Driveway Pavers Companies the first use of asphalt by the ancients was in the nature of a cement for securing or joining together various objects, and it thus seems likely that the name itself was expressive of this application. Specifically, Herodotus mentioned that bitumen was brought to Babylon to build its gigantic fortification wall.[11] From the Greek, the word passed into late Latin, and thence into French (asphalte) and English (“asphaltum” and “asphalt”). In French, the term asphalte is used for naturally occurring asphalt-soaked limestone deposits, and for specialised manufactured products with fewer voids or greater bitumen content than the “asphaltic concrete” used to pave roads.

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The expression “bitumen” originated in the Sanskrit words jatu, meaning “pitch”, and jatu-krit, meaning “pitch creating” or “pitch producing” (referring to coniferous or resinous trees). The Latin equivalent is claimed by some to be originally gwitu-men (pertaining to pitch), and by others, pixtumens (exuding or bubbling pitch), which was subsequently shortened to bitumen, thence passing via French into English. From the same root is derived the Anglo-Saxon word cwidu (mastix), the German word Kitt (cement or mastic) and the old Norse word kvada.

In British English, “bitumen” is used instead of “asphalt”. The word “asphalt” is instead used to refer to asphalt concrete, a mixture of construction aggregate and asphalt itself (also called “tarmac” in common parlance). Bitumen mixed with clay was usually called “asphaltum”,[13] but the term is less commonly used today.[citation needed]

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In Australian English, “bitumen” is often used as the generic term for road surfaces.

In American English, “asphalt” is equivalent to the British “bitumen”. However, “asphalt” is also commonly used as a shortened form of “asphalt concrete” (therefore equivalent to the British “asphalt” or “tarmac”).

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In Canadian English, the word “bitumen” is used to refer to the vast Canadian deposits of extremely heavy crude oil,[14] while “asphalt” is used for the oil refinery product. Diluted bitumen (diluted with naphtha to make it flow in pipelines) is known as “dilbit” in the Canadian petroleum industry, while bitumen “upgraded” to synthetic crude oil is known as “syncrude”, and syncrude blended with bitumen is called “synbit”.[15]

“Bitumen” is still the preferred geological term for naturally occurring deposits of the solid or semi-solid form of petroleum. “Bituminous rock” is a form of sandstone impregnated with bitumen. The tar sands of Alberta, Canada are a similar material.

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Neither of the terms “asphalt” or “bitumen” should be confused with tar or coal tars.[further explanation needed]

See also: Asphaltene

The components of asphalt include four main classes of compounds:

The naphthene aromatics and polar aromatics are typically the majority components. Most natural bitumens also contain organosulfur compounds, resulting in an overall sulfur content of up to 4%. Nickel and vanadium are found at <10 parts per million, as is typical of some petroleum.

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The substance is soluble in carbon disulfide. It is commonly modelled as a colloid, with asphaltenes as the dispersed phase and maltenes as the continuous phase.[16] “It is almost impossible to separate and identify all the different molecules of asphalt, because the number of molecules with different chemical structure is extremely large”.

Asphalt may be confused with coal tar, which is a visually similar black, thermoplastic material produced by the destructive distillation of coal. During the early and mid-20th century, when town gas was produced, coal tar was a readily available byproduct and extensively used as the binder for road aggregates. The addition of coal tar to macadam roads led to the word “tarmac”, which is now used in common parlance to refer to road-making materials. However, since the 1970s, when natural gas succeeded town gas, asphalt has completely overtaken the use of coal tar in these applications. Other examples of this confusion include the La Brea Tar Pits and the Canadian oil sands, both of which actually contain natural bitumen rather than tar. “Pitch” is another term sometimes informally used at times to refer to asphalt, as in Pitch Lake.

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Bituminous outcrop of the Puy de la Poix, Clermont-Ferrand, France

The majority of asphalt used commercially is obtained from petroleum.[18] Nonetheless, large amounts of asphalt occur in concentrated form in nature. Naturally occurring deposits of bitumen are formed from the remains of ancient, microscopic algae (diatoms) and other once-living things. These remains were deposited in the mud on the bottom of the ocean or lake where the organisms lived. Under the heat (above 50 °C) and pressure of burial deep in the earth, the remains were transformed into materials such as bitumen, kerogen, or petroleum.

Natural deposits of bitumen include lakes such as the Pitch Lake in Trinidad and Tobago and Lake Bermudez in Venezuela. Natural seeps occur in the La Brea Tar Pits and in the Dead Sea.

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Bitumen also occurs in unconsolidated sandstones known as “oil sands” in Alberta, Canada, and the similar “tar sands” in Utah, US. The Canadian province of Alberta has most of the world’s reserves, in three huge deposits covering 142,000 square kilometres (55,000 sq mi), an area larger than England or New York state. These bituminous sands contain 166 billion barrels (26.4×10^9 m3) of commercially established oil reserves, giving Canada the third largest oil reserves in the world. Although historically it was used without refining to pave roads, nearly all of the output is now used as raw material for oil refineries in Canada and the United States.

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The world’s largest deposit of natural bitumen, known as the Athabasca oil sands, is located in the McMurray Formation of Northern Alberta. This formation is from the early Cretaceous, and is composed of numerous lenses of oil-bearing sand with up to 20% oil.[19] Isotopic studies show the oil deposits to be about 110 million years old.[20] Two smaller but still very large formations occur in the Peace River oil sands and the Cold Lake oil sands, to the west and southeast of the Athabasca oil sands, respectively. Of the Alberta deposits, only parts of the Athabasca oil sands are shallow enough to be suitable for surface mining. The other 80% has to be produced by oil wells using enhanced oil recovery techniques like steam-assisted gravity drainage.

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Much smaller heavy oil or bitumen deposits also occur in the Uinta Basin in Utah, US. The Tar Sand Triangle deposit, for example, is roughly 6% bitumen.

Bitumen may occur in hydrothermal veins. An example of this is within the Uinta Basin of Utah, in the US, where there is a swarm of laterally and vertically extensive veins composed of a solid hydrocarbon termed Gilsonite. These veins formed by the polymerization and solidification of hydrocarbons that were mobilized from the deeper oil shales of the Green River Formation during burial and diagenesis.

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Bitumen is similar to the organic matter in carbonaceous meteorites.[23] However, detailed studies have shown these materials to be distinct.[24] The vast Alberta bitumen resources are considered to have started out as living material from marine plants and animals, mainly algae, that died millions of years ago when an ancient ocean covered Alberta. They were covered by mud, buried deeply over time, and gently cooked into oil by geothermal heat at a temperature of 50 to 150 °C (120 to 300 °F). Due to pressure from the rising of the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Alberta, 80 to 55 million years ago, the oil was driven northeast hundreds of kilometres and trapped into underground sand deposits left behind by ancient river beds and ocean beaches, thus forming the oil sands.

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The use of natural bitumen for waterproofing, and as an adhesive dates at least to the fifth millennium BC, with a crop storage basket discovered in Mehrgarh, of the Indus Valley Civilization, lined with it.[25] By the 3rd millennia BC refined rock asphalt was in use, in the region, and was used to waterproof the Great Bath, Mohenjo-daro.

In the ancient Middle East, the Sumerians used natural bitumen deposits for mortar between bricks and stones, to cement parts of carvings, such as eyes, into place, for ship caulking, and for waterproofing.[3] The Greek historian Herodotus said hot bitumen was used as mortar in the walls of Babylon.

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The 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) long Euphrates Tunnel beneath the river Euphrates at Babylon in the time of Queen Semiramis (ca. 800 BC) was reportedly constructed of burnt bricks covered with bitumen as a waterproofing agent.

Bitumen was used by ancient Egyptians to embalm mummies.[3][28] The Persian word for asphalt is moom, which is related to the English word mummy. The Egyptians’ primary source of bitumen was the Dead Sea, which the Romans knew as Palus Asphaltites (Asphalt Lake).

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Approximately 40 AD, Dioscorides described the Dead Sea material as Judaicum bitumen, and noted other places in the region where it could be found.[29] The Sidon bitumen is thought to refer to material found at Hasbeya.[30] Pliny refers also to bitumen being found in Epirus. It was a valuable strategic resource, the object of the first known battle for a hydrocarbon deposit—between the Seleucids and the Nabateans in 312 BC.

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In the ancient Far East, natural bitumen was slowly boiled to get rid of the higher fractions, leaving a thermoplastic material of higher molecular weight that when layered on objects became quite hard upon cooling. This was used to cover objects that needed waterproofing,[3] such as scabbards and other items. Statuettes of household deities were also cast with this type of material in Japan, and probably also in China.

In North America, archaeological recovery has indicated bitumen was sometimes used to adhere stone projectile points to wooden shafts.[32] In Canada, aboriginal people used bitumen seeping out of the banks of the Athabasca and other rivers to waterproof birch bark canoes, and also heated it in smudge pots to ward off mosquitoes in the summer.

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In 1553, Pierre Belon described in his work Observations that pissasphalto, a mixture of pitch and bitumen, was used in the Republic of Ragusa (now Dubrovnik, Croatia) for tarring of ships.

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An 1838 edition of Mechanics Magazine cites an early use of asphalt in France. A pamphlet dated 1621, by “a certain Monsieur d’Eyrinys, states that he had discovered the existence (of asphaltum) in large quantities in the vicinity of Neufchatel”, and that he proposed to use it in a variety of ways – “principally in the construction of air-proof granaries, and in protecting, by means of the arches, the water-courses in the city of Paris from the intrusion of dirt and filth”, which at that time made the water unusable. “He expatiates also on the excellence of this material for forming level and durable terraces” in palaces, “the notion of forming such terraces in the streets not one likely to cross the brain of a Parisian of that generation”.

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But the substance was generally neglected in France until the revolution of 1830. In the 1830s there was a surge of interest, and asphalt became widely used “for pavements, flat roofs, and the lining of cisterns, and in England, some use of it had been made of it for similar purposes”. Its rise in Europe was “a sudden phenomenon”, after natural deposits were found “in France at Osbann (Bas-Rhin), the Parc (Ain) and the Puy-de-la-Poix (Puy-de-Dôme)”, although it could also be made artificially.[35] One of the earliest uses in France was the laying of about 24,000 square yards of Seyssel asphalt at the Place de la Concorde in 1835.

Among the earlier uses of bitumen in the United Kingdom was for etching. William Salmon’s Polygraphice (1673) provides a recipe for varnish used in etching, consisting of three ounces of virgin wax, two ounces of mastic, and one ounce of asphaltum.[37] By the fifth edition in 1685, he had included more asphaltum recipes from other sources.

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The first British patent for the use of asphalt was “Cassell’s patent asphalte or bitumen” in 1834.[35] Then on 25 November 1837, Richard Tappin Claridge patented the use of Seyssel asphalt (patent #7849), for use in asphalte pavement,[39][40] having seen it employed in France and Belgium when visiting with Frederick Walter Simms, who worked with him on the introduction of asphalt to Britain.[41][42] Dr T. Lamb Phipson writes that his father, Samuel Ryland Phipson, a friend of Claridge, was also “instrumental in introducing the asphalte pavement (in 1836)”.[43] Indeed, mastic pavements had been previously employed at Vauxhall by a competitor of Claridge, but without success.

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Claridge obtained a patent in Scotland on 27 March 1838, and obtained a patent in Ireland on 23 April 1838. In 1851, extensions for the 1837 patent and for both 1838 patents were sought by the trustees of a company previously formed by Claridge. Claridge’s Patent Asphalte Company—formed in 1838 for the purpose of introducing to Britain “Asphalte in its natural state from the mine at Pyrimont Seysell in France”,—”laid one of the first asphalt pavements in Whitehall”.  Trials were made of the pavement in 1838 on the footway in Whitehall, the stable at Knightsbridge Barracks,”and subsequently on the space at the bottom of the steps leading from Waterloo Place to St. James Park”. “The formation in 1838 of Claridge’s Patent Asphalte Company (with a distinguished list of aristocratic patrons, and Marc and Isambard Brunel as, respectively, a trustee and consulting engineer), gave an enormous impetus to the development of a British asphalt industry”.[45] “By the end of 1838, at least two other companies, Robinson’s and the Bastenne company, were in production”,[50] with asphalt being laid as paving at Brighton, Herne Bay, Canterbury, Kensington, the Strand, and a large floor area in Bunhill-row, while meantime Claridge’s Whitehall paving “continue(d) in good order”.

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Residential Paving Cost Estimate A high-speed toll booth on SR 417 near Orlando, Florida, United States. A toll collection area in the United Kingdom. Hong Kong toll booth.

A toll road, also known as a turnpike or tollway, is a public or private road for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance.

Toll roads have existed in some form since antiquity, with tolls levied on passing travellers on foot, wagon or horseback; but their prominence increased with the rise of the automobile,[citation needed] and many modern tollways charge fees for motor vehicles exclusively. The amount of the toll usually varies by vehicle type, weight, or number of axles, with freight trucks often charged higher rates than cars.

Tolls are often collected at toll booths, toll houses, plazas, stations, bars, or gates. Some toll collection points are unmanned and the user deposits money in a machine which opens the gate once the correct toll has been paid. To cut costs and minimise time delay many tolls today are collected by some form of automatic or electronic toll collection equipment which communicates electronically with a toll payer's transponder. Some electronic toll roads also maintain a system of toll booths so people without transponders can still pay the toll, but many newer roads now use automatic number plate recognition to charge drivers who use the road without a transponder, and some older toll roads are being upgraded with such systems.

Criticisms of toll roads include the time taken to stop and pay the toll, and the cost of the toll booth operators—up to about one third of revenue in some cases. Automated toll paying systems help minimise both of these. Others object to paying "twice" for the same road: in fuel taxes and with tolls.

In addition to toll roads, toll bridges and toll tunnels are also used by public authorities to generate funds to repay the cost of building the structures. Some tolls are set aside to pay for future maintenance or enhancement of infrastructure, or are applied as a general fund by local governments, not being earmarked for transport facilities. This is sometimes limited or prohibited by central government legislation. Also road congestion pricing schemes have been implemented in a limited number of urban areas as a transportation demand management tool to try to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.[1]

A table of tolls in pre-decimal currency for the College Road, Dulwich, London SE21 tollgate.

Toll roads have existed for at least the last 2,700 years, as tolls had to be paid by travellers using the Susa–Babylon highway under the regime of Ashurbanipal, who reigned in the 7th century BC.[2] Aristotle and Pliny refer to tolls in Arabia and other parts of Asia. In India, before the 4th century BC, the Arthashastra notes the use of tolls. Germanic tribes charged tolls to travellers across mountain passes.

A 14th-century example (though not for a road) is Castle Loevestein in the Netherlands, which was built at a strategic point where two rivers meet. River tolls were charged on boats sailing along the river. The Øresund in Scandinavia was once subject to a toll to the Danish Monarch, which once provided a sizable portion of the king's revenue.

Many modern European roads were originally constructed as toll roads in order to recoup the costs of construction, maintenance and as a source of tax money that is paid primarily by someone other than the local residents. In 14th-century England, some of the most heavily used roads were repaired with money raised from tolls by pavage grants. Widespread toll roads sometimes restricted traffic so much, by their high tolls, that they interfered with trade and cheap transportation needed to alleviate local famines or shortages.[3]

Tolls were used in the Holy Roman Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Industrialisation in Europe needed major improvements to the transport infrastructure which included many new or substantially improved roads, financed from tolls. The A5 road in Britain was built to provide a robust transport link between Britain and Ireland and had a toll house every few miles.

In the 20th century, road tolls were introduced in Europe to finance the construction of motorway networks and specific transport infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels. Italy was the first European country to charge motorway tolls, on a 50 km motorway section near Milan in 1924. It was followed by Greece, which made users pay for the network of motorways around and between its cities in 1927. Later in the 1950s and 1960s, France, Spain and Portugal started to build motorways largely with the aid of concessions, allowing rapid development of this infrastructure without massive State debts. Since then, road tolls have been introduced in the majority of the EU Member States.[4]

In the United States, prior to the introduction of the Interstate Highway System and the large federal grants supplied to states to build it, many states constructed their first controlled-access highways by floating bonds backed by toll revenues. Starting with the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1940, and followed by similar roads in New Jersey (Garden State Parkway (1946) and New Jersey Turnpike, 1952), New York (New York State Thruway, 1954), Massachusetts (Massachusetts Turnpike, 1957), and others, numerous states throughout the 1950s established major toll roads. With the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in the late 1950s, toll road construction in the U.S. slowed down considerably, as the federal government now provided the bulk of funding to construct new freeways, and regulations required that such Interstate highways be free from tolls. Many older toll roads were added to the Interstate System under a grandfather clause that allowed tolls to continue to be collected on toll roads that predated the system. Some of these such as the Connecticut Turnpike and the Richmond–Petersburg Turnpike later removed their tolls when the initial bonds were paid off. Many states, however, have maintained the tolling of these roads, however, as a consistent source of revenue.

As the Interstate Highway System approached completion during the 1980s, states began constructing toll roads again to provide new controlled-access highways which were not part of the original interstate system funding. Houston's outer beltway of interconnected toll roads began in 1983, and many states followed over the last two decades of the 20th century adding new toll roads, including the tollway system around Orlando, Florida, Colorado's E-470, and Georgia State Route 400.

London, in an effort to reduce traffic within the city, instituted the London congestion charge in 2003, effectively making all roads within the city tolled.

In the United States, as states looked for ways to construct new freeways without federal funding again, to raise revenue for continued road maintenance, and to control congestion, new toll road construction saw significant increases during the first two decades of the 21st century. Spurred on by two innovations, the electronic toll collection system, and the advent of high occupancy and express lane tolls, many areas of the U.S saw large road building projects in major urban areas. Electronic toll collection, first introduced in the 1980s, reduces operating costs by removing toll collectors from roads. Tolled express lanes, by which certain lanes of a freeway are designated "toll only", increases revenue by allowing a free-to-use highway collect revenue by allowing drivers to bypass traffic jams by paying a toll. The E-ZPass system, compatible with many state systems, is the largest ETC system in the U.S., and is used for both fully tolled highways and tolled express lanes. Maryland Route 200 and the Triangle Expressway in North Carolina were the first toll roads built without toll booths, with drivers charged via ETC or by optical license plate recognition and are billed by mail.

19th-century toll booth in Brooklyn, New York Toll bar in Romania, 1877 Plaque commemorating the suppression of toll on a York bridge in 1914. Main article: Toll roads in Great Britain

Turnpike trusts were established in England and Wales from about 1706 in response to the need for better roads than the few and poorly-maintained tracks then available. Turnpike trusts were set up by individual Acts of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls to repay loans for building, improving, and maintaining the principal roads in Britain. At their peak, in the 1830s, over 1,000 trusts[5] administered around 30,000 miles (48,000 km) of turnpike road in England and Wales, taking tolls at almost 8,000 toll-gates.[6] The trusts were ultimately responsible for the maintenance and improvement of most of the main roads in England and Wales, which were used to distribute agricultural and industrial goods economically. The tolls were a source of revenue for road building and maintenance, paid for by road users and not from general taxation. The turnpike trusts were gradually abolished from the 1870s. Most trusts improved existing roads, but some new roads, usually only short stretches, were also built. Thomas Telford's Holyhead road followed Watling Street from London but was exceptional in creating a largely new route beyond Shrewsbury, and especially beyond Llangollen. Built in the early 19th century, with many toll booths along its length, most of it is now the A5. In the modern day, one major toll road is the M6 Toll, relieving traffic congestion on the M6 in Birmingham. A few notable bridges and tunnels continue as toll roads including the Severn Bridge, the Dartford Crossing and Mersey Gateway bridge.

Some cities in Canada had toll roads in the 19th century. Roads radiating from Toronto required users to pay at toll gates along the street (Yonge Street, Bloor Street, Davenport Road, Kingston Road)[7] and disappeared after 1895.[8]

19th-century plank roads were usually operated as toll roads. One of the first U.S. motor roads, the Long Island Motor Parkway (which opened on October 10, 1908) was built by William Kissam Vanderbilt II, the great-grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt. The road was closed in 1938 when it was taken over by the state of New York in lieu of back taxes.[9][10]

Main article: Road pricing

Road tolls were levied traditionally for a specific access (e.g. city) or for a specific infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges). These concepts were widely used until the last century. However, the evolution in technology made it possible to implement road tolling policies based on different concepts. The different charging concepts are designed to suit different requirements regarding purpose of the charge, charging policy, the network to the charge, tariff class differentiation etc.:[11]

Time Based Charges and Access Fees: In a time-based charging regime, a road user has to pay for a given period of time in which they may use the associated infrastructure. For the practically identical access fees, the user pays for the access to a restricted zone for a period or several days.

Motorway and other Infrastructure Tolling: The term tolling is used for charging a well-defined special and comparatively costly infrastructure, like a bridge, a tunnel, a mountain pass, a motorway concession or the whole motorway network of a country. Classically a toll is due when a vehicle passes a tolling station, be it a manual barrier-controlled toll plaza or a free-flow multi-lane station.

Distance or Area Charging: In a distance or area charging system concept, vehicles are charged per total distance driven in a defined area.

Some toll roads charge a toll in only one direction. Examples include the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour Tunnel and Eastern Distributor (these all charge tolls city-bound) in Australia, the Severn Bridges where the M4 and M48 in Great Britain crosses the River Severn, in the United States, crossings between Pennsylvania and New Jersey operated by Delaware River Port Authority and crossings between New Jersey and New York operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.This technique is practical where the detour to avoid the toll is large or the toll differences are small.

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Balintawak toll plaza of the North Luzon Expressway in Caloocan, Philippines. The toll barrier has both electronic toll collection and cash payment in the same barrier, before a new toll plaza was added. Tipo toll plaza in Subic–Clark–Tarlac Expressway, Hermosa, Bataan The open road tolling lanes at the West 163rd Street toll plaza, on the Tri-State Tollway near Markham, Illinois, United States

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Overhead cameras and reader attach to gantry on Highway 407 in Ontario. See also: Electronic toll collection

Traditionally tolls were paid by hand at a toll gate. Although payments may still be made in cash, it is more common now to pay by credit card, by pre-paid card,[citation needed] or by an electronic toll collection system. In some places, payment is made using stickers which are affixed to the windscreen.

Three systems of toll roads exist: open (with mainline barrier toll plazas); closed (with entry/exit tolls) and open road (no toll booths, only electronic toll collection gantries at entrances and exits, or at strategic locations on the mainline of the road). Modern toll roads often use a combination of the three, with various entry and exit tolls supplemented by occasional mainline tolls: for example the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the New York State Thruway implement both systems in different sections.

On an open toll system, all vehicles stop at various locations along the highway to pay a toll. (Not to be confused with "open road tolling", where no vehicles stop to pay toll.) While this may save money from the lack of need to construct toll booths at every exit, it can cause traffic congestion while traffic queues at the mainline toll plazas (toll barriers). It is also possible for motorists to enter an 'open toll road' after one toll barrier and exit before the next one, thus travelling on the toll road toll-free. Most open toll roads have ramp tolls or partial access junctions to prevent this practice, known in the U.S. as "shunpiking".

With a closed system, vehicles collect a ticket when entering the highway. In some cases, the ticket displays the toll to be paid on exit. Upon exit, the driver must pay the amount listed for the given exit. Should the ticket be lost, a driver must typically pay the maximum amount possible for travel on that highway. Short toll roads with no intermediate entries or exits may have only one toll plaza at one end, with motorists traveling in either direction paying a flat fee either when they enter or when they exit the toll road. In a variant of the closed toll system, mainline barriers are present at the two endpoints of the toll road, and each interchange has a ramp toll that is paid upon exit or entry. In this case, a motorist pays a flat fee at the ramp toll and another flat fee at the end of the toll road; no ticket is necessary. In addition, with most systems, motorists may pay tolls only with cash and/or change; debit and credit cards are not accepted. However, some toll roads may have travel plazas with ATMs so motorists can stop and withdraw cash for the tolls.

The toll is calculated by the distance travelled on the toll road or the specific exit chosen. In the United States, for instance, the Kansas Turnpike, Ohio Turnpike, Pennsylvania Turnpike, New Jersey Turnpike, most of the Indiana Toll Road, New York State Thruway, and Florida's Turnpike currently implement closed systems.

The Union Toll Plaza on the Garden State Parkway was the first ever to use an automated toll collection machine. A plaque commemorating the event includes the first quarter collected at its toll booths.[12]

The first major deployment of an RFID electronic toll collection system in the United States was on the Dallas North Tollway in 1989 by Amtech (see TollTag). The Amtech RFID technology used on the Dallas North Tollway was originally developed at Sandia Labs for use in tagging and tracking livestock. In the same year, the Telepass active transponder RFID system was introduced across Italy.

Highway 407 in the province of Ontario, Canada, has no toll booths, and instead reads a transponder mounted on the windshields of each vehicle using the road (the rear licence plates of vehicles lacking a transponder are photographed when they enter and exit the highway). This made the highway the first all-automated toll highway in the world. A bill is mailed monthly for usage of the 407. Lower charges are levied on frequent 407 users who carry electronic transponders in their vehicles. The approach has not been without controversy: In 2003 the 407 ETR settled[13] a class action with a refund to users.

Throughout most of the East Coast of the United States, E-ZPass (operated under the brand I-Pass in Illinois) is accepted on almost all toll roads. Similar systems include SunPass in Florida, FasTrak in California, Good to Go in Washington State, and ExpressToll in Colorado. The systems use a small radio transponder mounted in or on a customer's vehicle to deduct toll fares from a pre-paid account as the vehicle passes through the toll barrier. This reduces manpower at toll booths and increases traffic flow and fuel efficiency by reducing the need for complete stops to pay tolls at these locations.

E-ZPass lanes at a New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) Toll Gate for Exit 8A in Monroe Township, New Jersey, United States

By designing a tollgate specifically for electronic collection, it is possible to carry out open-road tolling, where the customer does not need to slow at all when passing through the tollgate. The U.S. state of Texas is testing a system on a stretch of Texas 121 that has no toll booths. Drivers without a TollTag have their license plate photographed automatically and the registered owner will receive a monthly bill, at a higher rate than those vehicles with TollTags.[14]

The first all-electric toll road in the eastern United States, the InterCounty Connector (Maryland Route 200) was partially opened to traffic in February 2011,[15] and the final segment was completed in November 2014.[16] The first section of another all-electronic toll road, the Triangle Expressway, opened at the beginning of 2012 in North Carolina.[17]

Some toll roads are managed under such systems as the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) system. Private companies build the roads and are given a limited franchise. Ownership is transferred to the government when the franchise expires. This type of arrangement is prevalent in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines. The BOT system is a fairly new concept that is gaining ground in the United States, with California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi,[18] Texas, and Virginia already building and operating toll roads under this scheme. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee are also considering the BOT methodology for future highway projects.

The more traditional means of managing toll roads in the United States is through semi-autonomous public authorities. Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia manage their toll roads in this manner. While most of the toll roads in California, Delaware, Florida, Texas, and Virginia are operating under the BOT arrangement, a few of the older toll roads in these states are still operated by public authorities.

In France, all toll roads are operated by private companies, and the government takes a part of their profit.[citation needed]

Toll roads have been criticized as being inefficient in various ways:[19]

  1. They require vehicles to stop or slow down (except open road tolling); manual toll collection wastes time and raises vehicle operating costs.
  2. Collection costs can absorb up to one-third of revenues, and revenue theft is considered to be comparatively easy.
  3. Where the tolled roads are less congested than the parallel "free" roads, the traffic diversion resulting from the tolls increases congestion on the road system and reduces its usefulness.
  4. By tracking the vehicle locations, their drivers are subject to an effectual restriction of their freedom of movement and freedom from excessive surveillance.

A number of additional criticisms are also directed at toll roads in general:

  1. Toll roads are a form of regressive taxation; that is, compared to conventional taxes for funding roads, they benefit wealthier citizens more than poor citizens.[20][21]
  2. If toll roads are owned or managed by private entities, the citizens may lose money overall compared to conventional public funding because the private owners/operators of the toll system will naturally seek to profit from the roads.[22]
  3. The managing entities, whether public or private, may not correctly account for the overall social costs, particularly to the poor, when setting pricing and thus may hurt the neediest segments of society.[23]

Asphalt

Driveway Paving Cost Estimate An alley in Fira, Santorini, Greece Sana'a, Yemen Howey Place, Melbourne, Australia Hagay Street, Old City, Jerusalem Rua Sobre-o-Douro, Porto, Portugal Peg Washington's Lane, Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny, Ireland

An alley or alleyway is a narrow lane, path, or passageway, often reserved for pedestrians, which usually runs between, behind, or within buildings in the older parts of towns and cities. It is also a rear access or service road (back lane), or a path or walk in a park or garden.[1]

A covered alley or passageway, often with shops, may be called an arcade. The origin of the word alley is late Middle English, from Old French: alee "walking or passage", from aler "go", from Latin: ambulare "to walk".[2]

The word alley is used in two main ways:

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

In older cities and towns in Europe, alleys are often what is left of a medieval street network, or a right of way or ancient footpath. Similar paths also exist in some older North American towns and cities. In some older urban development in North America lanes at the rear of houses, to allow for deliveries and garbage collection, are called alleys. Alleys and ginnels were also the product of the 1875 Public Health Act in the United Kingdom, where usually alleys run along the back of streets of terraced houses, with ginnels connecting them to the street every fifth house.[citation needed] Alleys may be paved, or unpaved, and a blind alley is a cul-de-sac. Modern urban developments may also provide a service road to allow for waste collection, or rear access for fire engines and parking.

Because of geography, steps (stairs) are the predominant form of alley in hilly cities and towns. This includes Pittsburgh (see Steps of Pittsburgh), Cincinnati (see Steps of Cincinnati), Minneapolis, Seattle,[3] and San Francisco[4] in the United States, as well as Hong Kong,[5] Genoa and Rome.[6]

Some alleys are roofed because they are within buildings, such as the traboules of Lyon, or when they are a pedestrian passage through railway embankments in Britain. The latter follow the line of rights-of way that existed before the railway was built.

Arcades are another kind of covered passageway and the simplest kind are no more than alleys to which a glass roof was added later, like, for example, Howey Place, Melbourne, Australia (see also Block Place, Melbourne). However, most arcades differ from alleys in that they are architectural structures built with a commercial purpose and are a form of shopping mall. All the same alleys have for long been associated with various types of businesses, especially pubs and coffee houses. Bazaars and Souqs are an early form of arcade found in Asia and North Africa.

Some attractive historic alleys are found in older American and Canadian cities, like New York City, Philadelphia, Charleston, South Carolina, Boston, Annapolis, New Castle, Delaware, Quebec City, St John's, Newfoundland,[7] and Victoria, British Columbia.

View into Fan Tan Alley, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Québec City was originally built on the riverside bluff Cap Diamant in the 17th century, and throughout Quebec City there are strategically placed public stairways that link the bluff to the lower parts of the city.[8] The Upper City is the site of Old Québec’s most significant historical sites, including 17th- and 18th-century chapels, the Citadel and the city ramparts.

Fan Tan Alley is an alley in Victoria, British Columbia's Chinatown. It was originally a gambling district with restaurants, shops, and opium dens. Today it is a tourist destination with many small shops including a barber shop, art gallery, Chinese cafe and apartments. It may well be the narrowest street in Canada. At its narrowest point it is only 0.9 metres (35 in) wide.[9] Waddington Alley is another interesting alley in Victoria and the only street in that city still paved with wood blocks, an early pavement common in the downtown core. Other heritage features are buildings more than a century old lining the alley and a rare metal carriage curb that edges the sidewalk on the southern end.[10]

Looking south down Shubert Alley in Manhattan's Theater District

In the United States alleys exist in both older commercial and residential areas, for both service purposes and automobile access. In residential areas, particularly in those that were built before 1950, alleys provide rear access to property where a garage was located, or where waste could be collected by service vehicles. A benefit of this was the location of these activities to the rear, less public side of a dwelling. Such alleys are generally roughly paved, but some may be dirt. Beginning in the late 20th century, they were seldom included in plans for new housing developments.

When Annapolis, Maryland, was established as a city at the beginning of the 18th century,[11] the streets were established in circles. That encouraged the creation of shortcuts, which over time became paved alleys. Some ten of these survive, and the city has recently worked on making them more attractive.[12]

Several residential neighborhoods in Austin, Texas, have comprehensive alley systems. These include Hyde Park, Rosedale, and areas northwest of the Austin State Hospital.

In the Beacon Hill district of Boston, Massachusetts, Acorn Street, a narrow cobbled lane with row houses, is one of Boston's more attractive and historic alleys. Another early settled American city, New Castle, Delaware has a number of interesting alleys, some of which are footpaths and others narrow, sometimes cobbled, lanes open to traffic. Many of the alleys in the Back Bay and South End area are numbered (e.g. "Public Alley 438").

In the French Quarter of Charleston’s historic district, Philadelphia Alley (c. 1766), originally named "Cow Alley", is one of several picturesque alleys. In 1810 William Johnson gave it the name of "Philadelphia Alley", although locals call the "elegantly landscaped thoroughfare" "Dueler’s Alley".[13] Starting on East Bay Street, Stolls Alley is just seventeen bricks wide at its start, and named for Justinus Stoll, an 18th-century blacksmith.[14] For three hundred years, another of Charleston's narrow lanes, Lodge Alley, served a commercial purpose. Originally French Hugenot merchants built homes on it, along with warehouses to store supplies their ships. Just ten-foot-wide this alley was a useful means of access to Charleston’s waterways.[15] Today it leads to East Bay Street's many restaurants.

Main article: Steps of Cincinnati

Cincinnati is a city of hills.[16] Before the advent of the automobile a system of stairway alleys provided pedestrians important and convenient access to and from their hill top homes. At the height of their use in the 19th century, over 30 miles (48 km) of hill side steps once connected the neighborhoods of Cincinnati to each other.[17] The first steps were installed by residents of Mount Auburn in the 1830s in order to gain easier access to Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine.[18] In recent years many steps have fallen into disrepair but there is a movement now to rehabilitate them.[19]

Broadway Alley is a rare alley in Manhattan; it is not located near Broadway, East Broadway or West Broadway

New York City's Manhattan is unusual in that it has very few alleys, since the Commissioner's Plan of 1811 did not include rear service alleys when it created Manhattan's grid. The exclusion of alleys has been criticized as a flaw in the plan, since services such as garbage pickup cannot be provided out of sight of the public, although other commentators feel that the lack of alleys is a benefit to the quality of life of the city.[20]

Two notable alleys in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in Manhattan are MacDougal Alley and Washington Mews.[21] The latter is a blind alley or cul-de-sac. Greenwich Village also has a number of private alleys that lead to back houses, which can only be accessed by residents, including Grove Court,[22] Patchin Place and Milligan Place, blind alleys. Patchin Place is notable for the writers who lived there.[23]

Shubert Alley is a 300-foot (91 m) long pedestrian alley at the heart of the Broadway theater district of New York City. The alley was originally created as a fire exit between the Shubert Theatre on West 45th Street and the Booth Theatre on West 44th Street, and the Astor Hotel to their east. Actors once gathered in the alley, hoping to attract the attention of the Shubert Brothers and get employment in their theatrical productions.[24] When the hotel was torn down, and replaced with One Astor Plaza (1515 Broadway), the apparent width of the alley increased, as the new building did not go all the way to the westernmost edge of the building lot. However, official, Shubert Alley consists only of the space between the two theatres and the lot line.

In the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, Grace Court Alley is another converted mews,[25] as is Dennett Place in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood.[26] The former is a cul-de-sac.

Pedestrians walking along Elfreth's Alley, Philadelphia

The Old City and Society Hill neighborhoods of Philadelphia, the oldest parts of the city, include a number of alleys, notably Elfreth's Alley, which is called "Our nation's oldest residential street", dating from 1702.[27] As of 2012[update], there were 32 houses on the street, which were built between 1728 and 1836.[28]

There are numerous cobblestoned residential passages in Philadelphia, many no wider than a truck, and typically flanked with brick houses. A typical house on these alleys or lanes is called a Philadelphia "Trinity", named because it has three rooms, one to each floor, alluding to the Christian Trinity.[29] These alleys include Willings Alley, between S. 3rd and S. 4th Streets and Walnut and Spruce Streets.[30] Other streets in Philadelphia which fit the general description of an alley, but are not named "alley", include Cuthbert Street, Filbert Street, Phillips Street,[31] South American Street,[32] Sansom Walk,[33] St. James Place,[34] and numerous others.

Steps, Pittsburgh's equivalent for an alley, have defined it for many visitors. Writing in 1937, war correspondent Ernie Pyle wrote of the steps of Pittsburgh:

And then the steps. Oh Lord, the steps! I was told they actually had a Department of Steps. That isn’t exactly true, although they do have an Inspector of Steps. But there are nearly 15 miles (24 km) of city-owned steps, going up mountainsides.[35]

The City of Pittsburgh maintains 712 sets of city-owned steps, some of which are shown as streets on maps.[36]

In hilly San Francisco, California alleys often take the form of steps and it has several hundred public stairways.[37] Among the most famous is the stairway known as the Filbert steps, a continuation of Filbert Street.[38] The Filbert Street Steps descend the east slope of Telegraph Hill along the line where Filbert Street would be if the hill was not so steep. The stairway is bordered by greenery, that consists both backyards, and a border garden tended to and paid for by the residents of the "street", and runs down to an eastern stub of Filbert Street and the walkway through the plaza to The Embarcadero. Many houses in this residential neighborhood are accessible only from the steps.

Also in San Francisco, Belden Place is a narrow pedestrian alley, bordered by restaurants, in the Financial District, referred to as San Francisco's French Quarter for its historic ties to early French immigrants, and its popular contemporary French restaurants and institutions.[39] The area was home to San Francisco's first French settlers. Approximately 3,000, sponsored by the French government, arrived near the end of the Gold Rush in 1851.[40]

Alley in Sausalito, California

Seattle is a city of hills, bluffs, and canyons and many stairs. There are over 600 publicly accessible Seattle stairways within the city limits.[41]

Ruelle verte (Green alley) Montréal, Québec, Canada.

Numerous cities in the United States and Canada, such as Chicago,[42] Seattle,[43] Los Angeles,[44] Phoenix, Washington, D.C.,[45] and Montréal, have started reclaiming their alleys from garbage and crime by greening the service lanes, or back ways, that run behind some houses.[45][46] Chicago, Illinois has about 1,900 miles (3,100 km) of alleyways.[42] In 2007, the Chicago Department of Transportation started converting conventional alleys which were paved with asphalt into so called Green Alleys. This program, called the Green Alley Program, is supposed to enable easier water runoff, as the alleyways in Chicago are not connected directly to the sewer system. With this program, the water will be able to seep through semi-permeable concrete or asphalt in which a colony of fungi and bacteria will establish itself. The bacteria will help breakup oils before the water is absorbed into the ground. The lighter color of the pavement will also reflect more light, making the area next to the alley cooler.[47] The greening of such alleys or laneways can also involve the planting of native plants to further absorb rain water and moderate temperature.

New life has also come to other alleys within downtown commercial districts of various cities throughout the world with the opening of businesses, such as coffee houses, shops, restaurants and bars.

Another way that alleys and laneways are being revitalized is through laneway housing. A laneway house is a form of housing that has been proposed on the west coast of Canada, especially in the Metro Vancouver area. These homes are typically built into pre-existing lots, usually in the backyard and opening onto the back lane. This form of housing already exists in Vancouver, and revised regulations now encourage new developments as part of a plan to increase urban density in pre-existing neighbourhoods while retaining a single-family feel to the area.[48] Vancouver's average laneway house is one and a half stories, with one or two bedrooms. Typical regulations require that the laneway home is built on the back half of a traditional lot in the space normally reserved for a garage.[49][50]

Toronto also has a tradition of laneway housing and changed regulations to encourage new development.[51] However this was discontinued in 2006 after staff reviewed the impact on services and safety.[52]

London has numerous historical alleys, especially, but not exclusively, in its centre; this includes The City, Covent Garden, Holborn, Clerkenwell, Westminster and Bloomsbury amongst others.

An alley in London can also be called a passage, court, place, lane, and less commonly path, arcade, walk, steps, yard, terrace, and close.[53] While both a court and close are usually defined as blind alleys, or cul-de-sacs, several in London are throughways, for example Cavendish Court, a narrow passage leading from Houndsditch into Devonshire Square, and Angel Court, which links King Street and Pall Mall.[54] Bartholomew Close is a narrow winding lane which can be called an alley by virtue of its narrowness, and because through-access requires the use of passages and courts between Little Britain, and Long Lane and Aldersgate Street.[55]

In an old neighbourhood of the City of London, Exchange Alley or Change Alley is a narrow alleyway connecting shops and coffeehouses.[56] It served as a convenient shortcut from the Royal Exchange on Cornhill to the Post Office on Lombard Street and remains as one of a number of alleys linking the two streets. The coffeehouses[57] of Exchange Alley, especially Jonathan's and Garraway's, became an early venue for the lively trading of shares and commodities. These activities were the progenitor of the modern London Stock Exchange.

Boundary Passage, Shoreditch, London, England

Lombard Street and Change Alley had been the open-air meeting place of London's mercantile community before Thomas Gresham founded the Royal Exchange in 1565.[58] In 1698, John Castaing began publishing the prices of stocks and commodities in Jonathan's Coffeehouse, providing the first evidence of systematic exchange of securities in London.

Change Alley was the site of some noteworthy events in England's financial history, including the South Sea Bubble from 1711 to 1720 and the panic of 1745.[59]

In 1761 a club of 150 brokers and jobbers was formed to trade stocks. The club built its own building in nearby Sweeting's Alley in 1773, dubbed the "New Jonathan's", later renamed the Stock Exchange.[60]

West of the City there are a number of alleys just north of Trafalgar Square, including Brydges Place which is situated right next to the Coliseum Theatre and just 15 inches wide at its narrowest point, only one person can walk down it at a time. It is the narrowest alley in London and runs for 200 yards (180 m), connecting St Martin's Lane with Bedfordbury in Covent Garden.[61]

Close by is another very narrow passage, Lazenby Court, which runs from Rose Street to Floral Street down the side of the Lamb and Flag pub; in order to pass people must turn slightly sideways. The Lamb & Flag in Rose Street has a reputation as the oldest pub in the area,[62] though records are not clear. The first mention of a pub on the site is 1772.[63] The Lazenby Court was the scene of an attack on the famous poet and playwright John Dryden in 1679 by thugs hired by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester,[64] with whom he had a long-standing conflict.[65]

In the same neighbourhood Cecil Court has an entirely different character than the two previous alleys, and is a spacious pedestrian street with Victorian shop-frontages that links Charing Cross Road with St. Martin's Lane, and it is sometimes used as a location by film companies.[66][67]

One of the older thoroughfares in Covent Garden, Cecil Court dates back to the end of the 17th century. A tradesman's route at its inception, it later acquired the nickname Flicker Alley because of the concentration of early film companies in the Court.[68] The first film-related company arrived in Cecil Court in 1897, a year after the first demonstration of moving pictures in the United Kingdom and a decade before London’s first purpose built cinema opened its doors. Since the 1930s it has been known as the new Booksellers' Row as it is home to nearly twenty antiquarian and second-hand independent bookshops.

It was the temporary home of an eight-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart while he was touring Europe in 1764. For almost four months the Mozart family lodged with barber John Couzin.[69] According to some modern authorities, Mozart composed his first symphony while a resident of Cecil Court.[70]

North of the centre of London, Camden Passage is a pedestrian passage off Upper Street in the London Borough of Islington, famous because of its many antiques shops, and an antique market on Wednesdays and Saturday mornings. It was built, as an alley, along the backs of houses on Upper Street, then Islington High Street, in 1767.[71]

An alley (usually called a ginnel) in Moss Side, Manchester Tolbooth Wynd, Edinburgh

In Scotland and Northern Ireland the Scots terms close, wynd, pend and vennel are general in most towns and cities. The term close has an unvoiced "s" as in sad. The Scottish author Ian Rankin's novel Fleshmarket Close was retitled Fleshmarket Alley for the American market. Close is the generic Scots term for alleyways, although they may be individually named closes, entries, courts and wynds. A close was private property, hence gated and closed to the public.

A wynd is typically a narrow lane between houses, an open throughway, usually wide enough for a horse and cart. The word derives from Old Norse venda, implying a turning off a main street, without implying that it is curved.[87] In fact, most wynds are straight. In many places wynds link streets at different heights and thus are mostly thought of as being ways up or down hills.

A pend is a passageway that passes through a building, often from a street through to a courtyard, and typically designed for vehicular rather than exclusively pedestrian access.[88] A pend is distinct from a vennel or a close, as it has rooms directly above it, whereas vennels and closes are not covered over.

A vennel is a passageway between the gables of two buildings which can in effect be a minor street in Scotland and the north east of England, particularly in the old centre of Durham. In Scotland, the term originated in royal burghs created in the twelfth century, the word deriving from the Old French word venelle meaning "alley" or "lane". Unlike a tenement entry to private property, known as a "close", a vennel was a public way leading from a typical high street to the open ground beyond the burgage plots.[89] The Latin form is venella.

Traboule, Vieux Lyon, France

The traboules of Lyon are passageways that cut through a house or, in some cases, a whole city block, linking one street with another. They are distinct from most other alleys in that they are mainly enclosed within buildings and may include staircases. While they are found in other French cities including Villefranche-sur-Saône, Mâcon, Chambéry, Saint-Étienne, Louhans, Chalon sur Saône and Vienne (Isère), Lyon has many more; in all there are about 500. The word traboule comes from the Latin trans ambulare, meaning "to cross", and the first of them were possibly built as early as the 4th century. As the Roman Empire disintegrated, the residents of early Lyon—Lugdunum, the capital of Roman Gaul—were forced to move from the Fourvière hill to the banks of the river Saône when their aqueducts began to fail. The traboules grew up alongside their new homes, linking the streets that run parallel to the river Saône and going down to the river itself. For centuries they were used by people to fetch water from the river and then by craftsmen and traders to transport their goods. By the 18th century they were invaluable to what had become the city’s defining industry, textiles, especially silk.[97] Nowadays, traboules are tourist attractions, and many are free and open to the public. Most traboules are on private property, serving as entrances to local apartments.

Venice is largely a traffic free city and there is, in addition to the canals, a maze of around 3000 lanes and alleys called calli (which means narrow). Smaller ones are callètte or callesèlle, while larger ones are calli large. Their width varies from just over 50 centimetres (19.7 in) to 5–6 metres (196.9–236.2 in). The narrowest is Calletta Varisco, which just 53 centimetres (20.9 in); Calle Stretta is 65 centimetres (25.6 in) wide and Calle Ca’ Zusto 68 centimetres (26.8 in). The main ones are also called salizada and wider calli, where trade proliferates, are called riga', while blind calli, used only by residents to reach their homes, are ramo.[98]

Spreuerhofstraße is the world's narrowest street, found in the city of Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.[99] It ranges from 31 centimetres (12.2 in) at its narrowest to 50 centimetres (19.7 in) at its widest.[100] The lane was built in 1727 during the reconstruction efforts after the area was completely destroyed in the massive citywide fire of 1726 and is officially listed in the Land-Registry Office as City Street Number 77.[99][101]

Lintgasse is an alley (German: Gasse) in the Old town of Cologne, Germany between the two squares of Alter Markt and Fischmarkt. It is a pedestrian zone and though only some 130 metres long, is nevertheless famous for its medieval history. The Lintgasse was first mentioned in the 12th century as in Lintgazzin, which may be derived from basketmakers who wove fish baskets out of Linden tree barks. These craftsmen were called Lindslizer, meaning Linden splitter. During the Middle Ages, the area was also known as platēa subri or platēa suberis, meaning street of Quercus suber, the cork oak tree. Lintgasse 8 to 14 used to be homes of medieval knights as still can be seen by signs like Zum Huynen, Zum Ritter or Zum Gir. During the 19th-century the Lintgasse was called Stink-Linkgaß, a because of its poor air quality.[102]

A view of Spreuerhofstraße in Germany, showing the sign indicating that is the world's record narrowest street

Gränd is Swedish for an alley and there are numerous gränder, or alleys in Gamla stan, The Old Town, of Stockholm, Sweden. The town dates back to the 13th century, with medieval alleyways, cobbled streets, and historic buildings. North German architecture has had a strong influence in the Old Town's buildings. Some of Stockholm's alleys are very narrow pedestrian footpaths, while others are very narrow, cobbled streets, or lanes open to slow moving traffic. Mårten Trotzigs gränd ("Alley of Mårten Trotzig") runs from Västerlånggatan and Järntorget up to Prästgatan and Tyska Stallplan, and part of it consists of 36 steps. At its narrowest the alley is a mere 90 cm (35 inches) wide, making it the narrowest street in Stockholm.[103] The alley is named after the merchant and burgher Mårten Trotzig (1559–1617), who, born in Wittenberg,[103] emigrated to Stockholm in 1581, and bought properties in the alley in 1597 and 1599, also opening a shop there. According to sources from the late 16th century, he was dealing in first iron and later copper, by 1595 had sworn his burgher oath, and was later to become one of the richest merchants in Stockholm.[104]

Mårten Trotzigs Gränd, 90 cm wide, the narrowest alley in Gamla stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Possibly referred to as Trångsund ("Narrow strait") before Mårten Trotzig gave his name to the alley, it is mentioned in 1544 as Tronge trappe grenden ("Narrow Alley Stairs"). In 1608 it is referred to Trappegrenden ("The Stairs Alley"), but a map dated 1733 calls it Trotz gränd. Closed off in the mid 19th century, not to be reopened until 1945, its present name was officially sanctioned by the city in 1949.[104]

The "List of streets and squares in Gamla stan" provides links to many pages that describe other alleys in the oldest part of Stockholm; e.g. Kolmätargränd (Coal Meter's Alley); Skeppar Karls Gränd (Skipper Karl's Alley); Skeppar Olofs Gränd (Skipper Olof's Alley); and Helga Lekamens Gränd (Alley of the Holy Body).

A hutong in Beijing

Hutongs (simplified Chinese: 胡同; traditional Chinese: 衚衕; pinyin: hútòng; Wade–Giles: hu-t'ung) are a type of narrow streets or alleys, commonly associated with northern Chinese cities, most prominently Beijing.

In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences.[105] Many neighbourhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another. The word hutong is also used to refer to such neighbourhoods. During China’s dynastic period, emperors planned the city of Beijing and arranged the residential areas according to the social classes of the Zhou Dynasty (1027 – 256 BC). The term "hutong" appeared first during the Yuan Dynasty, and is a term of Mongolian origin meaning "town".[106]

At the turn of the 20th century, the Qing court was disintegrating as China’s dynastic era came to an end. The traditional arrangement of hutongs was also affected. Many new hutongs, built haphazardly and with no apparent plan, began to appear on the outskirts of the old city, while the old ones lost their former neat appearance.

Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, many of the old hutongs of Beijing disappeared, replaced by wide boulevards and high rises. Many residents left the lanes where their families lived for generations for apartment buildings with modern amenities. In Xicheng District, for example, nearly 200 hutongs out of the 820 it held in 1949 have disappeared. However, many of Beijing’s ancient hutongs still stand, and a number of them have been designated protected areas. Many hutongs, some several hundred years old, in the vicinity of the Bell Tower and Drum Tower and Shichahai Lake are preserved amongst recreated contemporary two- and three-storey versions.[107][108]

A longtang in Shangxian Fang, a residential compound in Shanghai, China.

Hutongs represent an important cultural element of the city of Beijing and the hutongs are residential neighborhoods which still form the heart of Old Beijing. While most Beijing hutongs are straight, Jiudaowan (九道弯, literally "Nine Turns") Hutong turns nineteen times. At its narrowest section, Qianshi Hutong near Qianmen (Front Gate) is only 40 centimeters (16 inches) wide.[109]

The Shanghai longtang is loosely equivalent to the hutong of Beijing. A longtang (弄堂 lòngtáng, Shanghainese: longdang) is a laneway in Shanghai and, by extension, a community centred on a laneway or several interconnected laneways. On its own long (traditional Chinese 衖 or 弄, simplified Chinese 弄) is a Chinese term for "alley" or "lane", which is often left untranslated in Chinese addresses, but may also be translated as "lane", and "tang" is a parlor or hallway.[110] It is sometimes called lilong (里弄); the latter name incorporates the -li suffix often used in the name of residential developments in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. As with the term hutong, the Shanghai longdang can either refers to the lanes that the houses face onto, or a group of houses connected by the lane.[111][112][113][114]

A Golden Gai alley, Tokyo, Japan.

Shinjuku Golden Gai (新宿ゴールデン街) is a small area of Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan,[115] famous both as an area of architectural interest and for its nightlife. It is composed of a network of six narrow alleys, connected by even narrower passageways which are just about wide enough for a single person to pass through. Over 200 tiny shanty-style bars, clubs and eateries are squeezed into this area.[116]

Its architectural importance is that it provides a view into the relatively recent past of Tokyo, when large parts of the city resembled present-day Golden Gai, particularly in terms of the extremely narrow lanes and the tiny two-storey buildings. Nowadays, most of the surrounding area has been redeveloped. Typically, the buildings are just a few feet wide and are built so close to the ones next door that they nearly touch. Most are two-storey, having a small bar at street level and either another bar or a tiny flat upstairs, reached by a steep set of stairs. None of the bars are very large; some are so small that they can only fit five or so customers at one time.[115] The buildings are generally ramshackle, and the alleys are dimly lit, giving the area a very scruffy and run-down appearance. However, Golden Gai is not a cheap place to drink, and the clientele that it attracts is generally well off.

Golden Gai is well known as a meeting place for musicians, artists, directors, writers, academics and actors, including many celebrities. Many of the bars only welcome regular customers, who initially should be introduced by an existing patron, although many others welcome non-regulars, some even making efforts to attract overseas tourists by displaying signs and price lists in English.[115]

Golden Gai was known for prostitution before 1958, when prostitution became illegal. Since then it has developed as a drinking area, and at least some of the bars can trace their origins back to the 1960s.[116]

A medina quarter (Arabic: المدينة القديمةal-madīnah al-qadīmah "the old city") is a distinct city section found in many North African cities. The medina is typically walled, contains many narrow and maze-like streets.[117] The word "medina" (Arabic: مدينةmadīnah) itself simply means "city" or "town" in modern Arabic.

Because of the very narrow streets, medinas are generally free from car traffic, and in some cases even motorcycle and bicycle traffic. The streets can be less than a metre wide. This makes them unique among highly populated urban centres. The Medina of Fes, Morocco or Fes el Bali, is considered one of the largest car-free urban areas in the world.[118]

Notes

Bibliography


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