I was first acquainted with a Toynbee tile through the Instagram feed of a Clevelander back in July, followed by the reveal of what seemed to be a new one by Lauren Wilson and Kirk Wyckoff right here in Columbus, Ohio a few weeks ago. Have no clue what this is all about? I didn’t either—until some questioning lead me to a documentary—Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles. The narrative follows a Philadelphia man obsessed with uncovering the identity of someone who, unnoticed, has managed to embed puzzling messages into the asphalt of busy intersections across the United States and parts of South America since the early 1980’s. If you’re at all into the strange, synchronistic and cartoon-like turns of real life, add this one to the Netflix Queue, like…now.
The piece pictured above, located at the crosswalk between church and statehouse (har-har) on 3rd at Broad St., is one of a more recent round of ideas embedded by a new breed of renegade tiler(s), known as House of Hades. Not as compelling as the original message in my opinion, but no less impressive in execution.
Careful when looking down at the tile if you do decide to ogle in the middle of the street; we discovered that crosswalk signals seem shorter when you are stopping to take a picture of something. Eep!
Yup, even got yelled at by a bike cop, who was eventually charmed enough by the back story to stop traffic for us…even shining a light on the road so we might get a better picture. Columbus’ original Toynbee tile has since been paved over or removed as far as I can tell. Of course. Anyone out there remember where the old tile used to be? Send me a message!
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