Your Neighborhood Toynbee Tile

Here’s a little Toynbee Tile theory for everyone out there.

With a few exceptions, Toynbee tiles typically appear in areas of the greatest population density… central business districts of large cities, highways and rest stops. Of course I’ve considered that only tiles in these areas get noticed and reported, but there is some evidence that these high density areas have been the primary targets for tiling. I won’t get too deep into the evidence, because this post is oddball enough already. Let’s just say that a careful analysis of tile locations , information gleaned from Minority Association documents and close observation over a period of many years suggest that this is true.

In 2002, the vast majority of new tiles began appearing in Philadelphia and its near suburbs only. There was an outlier in Connecticut and a healthy run in South Jersey, but literally hundreds have been placed in Philadelphia since 2002. From 2006-2010 the tiler shifted focus from center city Philadelphia and began heavily tiling outlying neighborhoods. Route 1 was heavily tiled. Frankford Ave, Kensington Ave, Cottoman Ave, City Ave, 42nd Street, 52nd Street and Broad street were heavily tiled.

My job takes me all over the city, so I’ve seen many of these tiles, but I was pretty bad about photographing them. Recently I’ve been digging through the archives and getting back out there with a camera in hand to help fill in these gaps. Here’s a shot I found in my archives of 3! tiles from at least 2 different runs at Broad and Allegheny:


Here’s the largest tile of what was once a 4 or 5 tile set spread throughout the various intersections at Broad and Erie. The photos are from March of 2010. I was there yesterday and this tile is 100% illegible and the rest are gone:


Here’s one at Frankford and Cottman:


And 1 of 2 that once graced Kensington and Allegheny:

My point is, keep your eyes out.

And this concludes today’s lesson in Toynbee tile history. Thank you and Goodbye!



March 29, 2012 at 1:10 pm - Reply

Beautiful tiles…what a great billboard…we ship to prisons…bravo!


May 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm - Reply

TOYNBEE A. 2524 S. 7TH. PHILA. PA. 19148-4610 USA


September 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm - Reply

There is a Toynbee Tile @ Broad Street & Wyoming Avenue in the Logan section of North Philadelphia – 19140 Thanks!


September 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm - Reply

There are or were 2 tiles at that intersection. It was funny, because you could track the tiler as he got to the intersection, dropped one on Broad, then apparently stopped at dunkin donuts and dropped one on Wyoming after pulling back out to the street. You can still find tiles all up and down Broad from Olney to Girard.

Jennifer Filip

October 16, 2012 at 6:15 pm - Reply

Have you seen tile at Tulip and Allegheny? Across from old Northeastern hospital.


November 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm - Reply

I have not, but I will check it out next time I’m out that way! Probably around Superbowl time for some sausage.

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