An idea dating back to the depression era which encouraged laymen to observe and offer critique of construction being performed throughout the country.
Be that as it may, modern contractors do recognize the value of having sidewalk superintendents on their jobs. Observers of construction work have, from time to time, offered worthwhile suggestions as to how difficult operations could be simplified.
Sidewalk superintendents perform an important function in spreading information concerning construction work of vital importance. Many times they build up the morale of workmen on the job who realize that their efforts are being viewed and appreciated.
Herald Statesman, Mar. 10, 1954. This jokey “Sidewalk Superintendents Club” thing dated to the 1930s, according to a story Jan Morris tells in Manhattan ’45. One day when Rockefeller Center was being built, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. decided to look in on the construction incognito. A foreman on the site saw him, did not recognize him, and ejected him. The incident gave Rockefeller the idea to build a viewer’s platform so that people could watch the construction. It was facetiously presented as a Sidewalk Superintendents Club, and in the very beginning, even had some of the trappings of a club. It was a viewing platform in front of a wall with peepholes, including peepholes close to the ground for future superintendents, children.
A New Idea
Hardly, this is an excerpt from an article from the “Official journal of the Division of Highways,
Department of Public Works, State of California” Volume 31 May-June 1952 Page 17 (link below will take you there)
A year ago the Guy F. Atkinson Company, contractor on the $3,500,000 bridge over the Arroyo Seco for the Colorado Freeway, took a big step forward and built a sidewalk superintendents’ house at a vantage point on the job. This building measures 20 feet by 30 feet and has wide windows on all sides so that construction activities can be easily viewed. In the center there is a model of the bridge structure on a scale of 1 inch equals 20 feet so that sidewalk superintendents, after viewing disconnected units of construction out on the site, can look at the model and see how the various parts will fit together in the final product. Mr. Atkinson believes this model is of value not only to sidewalk superintendents but also to his own workmen who frequently come in to look at it in order to more easily interpret the plans. By visualizing the completed structure as shown by the model, they can then work out intricate details of form construction more easily.
KTTV, Channel 11 program “Sidewalk Superintendents,” 25 minutes of program time between 1 and 1.30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The first broadcast was made on April 1, 1952 with Resident Engineer Ray Collins being interviewed by Producer Roy Maypole while the camera was showing’ construction scenes on the Hollywood Freeway.