My friend Steve told me about a documentary he watched last Saturday night about the Toynbee Tiles. Toynbee Tiles? I’d never heard of them. The documentary is called Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles . It’s a film by Jon Foy and was chosen as one of the best documentaries of 2011 by Roger Ebert.
Turns out there was also an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about the tiles downtown but I missed it when it came out.
So last Sunday afternoon, Steve and went to look for them. We found three of the Toynbee Tiles. The first photographs of them were in the 1980’s so I am a latecomer to these mysterious plaques. And I am intrigued by their placement in so many locations.
A couple of them are paved over. Chicago doesn’t allow them, they rip them up. But in Pittsburgh they are there for pedestrians to walk over and cars to drive right on top of them. It is a mystery who places the tiles but there are a lot of them in the world. Right by the church where James and Laura were married in Columbus, OH at Third and Broad there’s another one and Laura’s seen it! They are considered guerrilla art. And a mystery!
You can see it in the crosswalk below.
An you can see the above tile in the crosswalk below.