The new cobblestone road has found its way to my door, at last! The Cobbling Crusaders have finished work here and moved on up around the corner. These guys have been working their tails off since last summer ripping up and rebuilding the roadways all through the tangled maze of Arnavutköy. Remember, now, that these streets are ALL hills. Picture mountain switchbacks with side roads everywhere, all just one lane wide, and you have a pretty good picture of Arnavutköy. Some of the roads seem to go straight up, but actually the only direct uphill routes are stairs…and plenty of them.
The Crusaders in action
Back to the Crusaders (The Dudes). I’ve been snapping photos of these guys all summer, so most of them recognize and greet me. They asked me to take a picture of them on Sunday as they completed my road, Adalı Fettah Sokak. They’re eager to see my blog—I gave them business cards with my web site on it. I may also bring out my laptop to show them tomorrow, if I get home on time…
A Sunday group shot, by special request
So here’s how it all works. First the big guns come in: The heavy equipment includes a big old jackhammer-type hydraulic excavator, and another one with a Mike-Mulligan-type shovel, working in tandem to rip up a section of the old street. There’s pavement on top, sometimes concrete, and then below is another layer of big old stones and bricks. It’s a MESS!
Ripping up the street below my apartment
They’ve had the devil of a time with the rain, too. What’s very different about this, though, is that these machines barely FIT in the street, and they actually let people walk through while they’re working—no safety codes here! (It’s the only way you can get home.) They close the street to cars only where they’re presently working, and it’s rare to have any warning before you get to the top of the hill and find that the road ends. Local drivers are experts at backing down steep, windy roads; there’s no way you could ever turn around in these streets unless you were riding a trike.
Narrow street = Dump truck dumping just outside the window
From that point on, most of the labor is done by hand. First heavy granite curbing and drainage pieces are placed in the road and cemented in. Any questionable spots in the road are also cemented—generally with cement that’s been hand mixed (although I did see a cement truck the other day).
The Dudes install curbing just below my apartment.
Next a dump truck brings in loads of finely-crushed gray gravel and dumps it on the road. The workers shovel it into one of their four beat-up wheelbarrows and spread it on the road with spades, in preparation for the load of granite cobblestones that comes next.
The ancient, battered wheelbarrow
A load of cobblestones just dumped outside my apartment
Each 4-inch rough-cut stone is arranged in a wave-like pattern, tapped into place with gravel sprinkled between, darker stones periodically accenting the picture. These four Cobble Dudes can place about 100 feet of cobbles in a day—amazing. Rebuilding the roads of Arnavutköy seems a never-ending task, though they continue to forge on. It’s always a surprise to see which road is closed each week.
The wave-patterned cobblestones
Friday night I got home after dark, and the team was pounding cobblestones by the light of street lamps. They worked from 8 to 8 that day, when they’re usually done by 6 or 7. I wondered if maybe they took time out to go to the mosque, since Friday is their holy day. I just don’t know. Maybe they had a goal to reach.
Night workers—Friday only
After everything is in, the steam roller comes through—probably the noisiest of all the equipment. He rolls back and forth over the stones, setting them flatter into the gravel. Then—they move on.
Saturday morning I woke to them cobbling at the bottom of my steps.
A friend at school is convinced that the owner of a granite quarry has a connection with some high-up mucky-mucks, because this is a HUGE project, and somebody is making mega-bucks off of it. The city looks much better with its new marble curbs and granite-cobbled streets, though, and the rough stones offer better traction for both cars and feet. (Not surprisingly, there are a LOT of 4-wheel-drive vehicles in my neighborhood.)
A finished product near my street
So—this is my latest news: a spanking, new road.
Libby’s happy to see the mud gone, too—no more foot scrubs after every walk.