The Suburban Times in Lakewood, WA publishes a regular column known as ‘Double Take’. The column takes its name from its two authors, who come up with a single idea and then write two separate columns from their respective viewpoints. One of their more recent columns addressed a set of stairs that don’t seem to go anywhere.
Both writers have entirely different takes on the subject. And of course, there is plenty of speculation as to what might have sat at the top of the stairs at one time. All of that is well and good, and well worth discussing by the way. But for this post, the more important question is this: how do those stairs still look so darn good?
One look at Suburban Times picture tells you the stairs are not modern. They were not installed within the last decade. In fact, they could be 50 to 100 years old for all anyone knows. The only thing we can say for sure is that they are old. And yet, they are still in exceptionally good condition.
The picture does not show any sinking or cracking. There is some discoloration, but nothing serious. Every step still seems to be level and square. The stairs are, quite frankly beautiful. They are amazing in that they look like someone went out of his way to preserve them all of these years.
The Concrete Raising Company (CRC), a slab and foundation repair contractor in Salt Lake City, says it is unusual to see steps so old not suffering from significant environmental damage. The stairs in the picture are certainly covered with dirt and decayed vegetation, but they look in good shape otherwise.
CRC says it would be normal to observe at least some sinking in older stairs. That is because soil erodes over time. Underlying erosion would cause soil to sink, thus providing less support for the heavy steps on top. This is the very type of damage that slab repair is designed to address.
The absence of rising is also a bit of a surprise. Plenty of trees and shrubs can be seen in the Suburban Times picture, leading one to believe that the likelihood of runaway roots is probably high. The fact that there don’t appear to be any roots pushing up on the staircase is remarkable.
Craftsmanship or Dumb Luck
Contemplating how the stairs still look so good leads to the question of craftsmanship vs. dumb luck. Could it be that the stairs remain in such good shape because they were constructed by workers who were superior craftsman? It could be. The ancient pyramids of Egypt have survived thousands of years primarily because of their construction.
The other possibility is dumb luck. It could be that just the right conditions have existed over the decades to prevent soil erosion underneath and wayward root systems dislodging the steps.
It might be nice to know what the steps are made of too. Though they could be concrete, they might also be natural stone. You cannot really tell from the pictures because of all the vegetation. The one thing we can say for sure is that stone steps would be even more impressive.
At the end of the day, the city of Lakewood has a small but amazing staircase that looks really good for its age. It is a testament to the fact that mankind is fully capable of building things that can withstand the harshest punishment nature can dish out. If only all of our construction lasted as long.