Toynbee tile found on Topeka street

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Reporter: Jared Broyles

A mystery tile emblazoned on the asphalt has appeared at the intersection of Southwest 6th Street and South Kansas Avenue in downtown Topeka. The artwork is so small that few people have noticed the artistic effort with it’s brief and cryptic message.

“Unless you’re looking for it you’re not going to find it you just think it’s a piece of trash,” downtown worker Hudson Hamilton told Kansas First News. He first discovered the tile last week.

The tile is similar in size to a license plate and bears the words: “House of Hades/One Man Versus American Media In Society 2011/It’s Been Fun!” It’s a similar statement inspired by other miniature mosaics. Dozens of the so-called Toynbee Tiles have been discovered across the U.S. and in South America since the 1980’s.

“I was excited,” Hamilton said. “I thought I had found something really special. You know it’s like being a kid and finding that last Easter egg.”

No ones seems to know who it put it there or why.

“It would be interesting to know who did it supposedly the original person is either dead or would be too old to be out and about and lives too far from here,” hamilton wondered. “It would be interesting to know who the creative person in Topeka is.”

Ron Raines is the city’s Director of Street Maintenance. He initially believed the tile had recently been laid until he turned to the city’s GIS mapping system.

“Just out of curiosity I thought, ‘Let’s see how well the system works’ and went in and took a look, and I couldn’t tell for sure but it does look like it’s in place and might have been there in July of 2012,” Raines explained.

Passers-by had no clue it was just feet away.

“I had not seen it, and I do not know who would see it,” one woman said. “Who would see that until now?”

We asked another driver if he had seen it before: “Nope, I sure haven’t,” he replied.

In the end, the lesson is: “Be observant. You never know what you might see out there,” Hamilton said.

Last night street maintenance workers removed the tile using a torch to melt the corners of the linoleum material and peeled it away. Raines said it wasn’t a hazard, however city manager Jim Colson asked that it be removed, possibly because of it’s random and cryptic message.

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