We’ve Only Just Begun

 By David Smith, ICPI Technical Director

With due respect to the title of Karen Carpenter’s 1970 classic song, the segmental concrete paver industry is still nascent in 2019. The song’s timing coincides with the first concrete paver project in North America, about one million sf installed on Roosevelt Island, a two-mile long rock situated in the East River next to Manhattan. The project used concrete pavers in a street designed for mostly pedestrian use and electric buses. The z-paver was used, manufactured in New Jersey by a German entrepreneur named Josef Peitz. His effort didn’t result in a permanent concrete paver plant there. The paver production machine was sold after the pavers were shipped to New York City.


Above: Street Z-Pavers On Roosevelt Island,
New York in 1969


In the meantime, the first permanent concrete paver plants were emerging in Ontario, Canada. From 1973 to 1990, the U.S. and Canadian paver industry grew to a few dozen manufacturers selling landmark municipal, commercial, industrial and port projects. Some compensation is presented via a partial list of projects built during those twenty-plus years.


1982 – Pier IX (formerly Massey Coal Terminal) Newport News, Virginia – 610,000 sf subjected to huge coal pules (for steel making) readied by big bulldozers for loading onto collier ships bound for Europe or elsewhere


1983 – North Bay, Ontario – 150,000 sf of streets and sidewalks


1986 – Canadian Pacific Railroad Intermodal Terminal, Edmonton, Alberta – 164,000 sf in container handling areas. This grew to about 1 million sf