Some Mount Pleasant residents have been waiting since the late ‘90s for the city to repair sidewalks pocked by tree roots, utilities maintenance, and time. But when the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) finally got around to replacing the walks on the 3100–3300 blocks of 19th Street NW this past summer, residents weren’t sure they wanted their new sidewalks to look so new.

According to advisory neighborhood commissioner Jack McKay, for years the sidewalks in this historic district were a beautiful but expensive composite of pebbles. “The new stuff,” McKay says of DDOT’s standard gray cement, “is very unattractive.”

When residents went to DDOT expressing their concern, the agency came up with an easy solution: put a dye into the cement mix, making a color it deems “pebble.” (No additional pebbles are in the mix, though.)

McKay says the new/old sidewalks look so good that his constituents on nearby streets are begging for the 19th Street blend. But that won’t happen anytime soon, says DDOT spokesperson Erik Linden. “It’s not something we would adopt for general usage at this point in time, but we would explore doing it again in the future if residents responded positively,” he says in an e-mail.

Residents on 19th Street, though, are enjoying their custom cement. “It’s easier on the eyes,” McKay says. “It blends better with the grass and gardens.”