Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Why are the street curbs in D.C. made of stone instead of poured concrete?

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Living in the nation’s capital, there are plenty of things to gripe about when it comes to the federal government. But at least they care about our curbs.

According to Section 24, Chapter 11 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations, the standard for curbs in the most well-trafficked portions of the nation’s capital is granite, instead of the more commonly used concrete. Granite is a far more durable material; the American Granite Curb Producers boast that granite has an “indefinite” lifespan, which certainly helps when inclement winter weather swings into the District. (To wit: in some areas of town, granite blue stone curbing, which was phased out in the early 1940s, is still standing.)

The District’s granite curbs are about 70 percent more expensive than concrete, according to District Department of Transportation spokeswoman Monica Hernandez. Stone usually costs around $50 per linear foot, and the extra expense is at least in part mitigated by federal aid. But it’s not just money or longevity that justifies the use of granite. Stone just looks better. Why shouldn’t the city’s street curbs be as stately as the rest of its grand exteriors?