Find Answer Man counting bricks and wondering, what is a Wawa?
Q: How many miles of brick streets does Orlando have and are there plans to restore more of them?
A: The city has 55 miles of exposed brick surface, with another 12½ miles resting under a layer of asphalt waiting to be “reclaimed.’’ But that may not happen any time soon, says public works director Rick Howard, because money to restore brick streets comes from the same fund used for upkeep of busy asphalt thoroughfares. The city last removed asphalt from brick about four years ago, on a stretch of Delaney Avenue between Cherokee and Briercliff drives. Interestingly, it’s not the bricks that give out, Howard explains, but rather the soft soil laid down as a base a century ago, when the heaviest thing on the road was a 1,200-pound Ford Model T. So crews regularly look for dips in streets (a great deterrent to speeders, by the way); dig up the bricks; rake, compact and level the soil; then put the bricks back in place. Ideally, Howard says, the city would replace the dirt under all bricks with a sturdier base. But that would involve pulling up about 30 million bricks. Not exactly dirt-cheap. For an example of a smooth, perfectly restored brick street–with a crushed-rock base–check out Mariposa Street west of Summerlin Avenue. And for a true journey into the past, position yourself in just the right spot after dawn or before sunset along Richmond Avenue north of Delaney Park. When the sunlight falls on the brick just right, Howard says, you can see the fingerprints of people who helped shape those building blocks more than 100 years ago.
Q: Where did Wawa, the convenience store chain, get its unusual name?
A: When Answer Man heard that the governor as well as the mayors of Orlando and Orange County were attending the recent local opening of Florida’s first Wawa, his first reaction was “Whaa-?!’’ followed immediately by “Whaa-?!’’ But we’re talking lots of new jobs, after all: The upscale chain, known for its coffee and built-to-order hoagies, plans to open 100 stores in the Tampa/Orlando market in the next five years. As for the name, the company is based in the Philadelphia suburb of Wawa, which took its name from a local Indian tribe’s word for the Canada goose. Indeed Wawa’s symbol features the big bird. Up to now, Wawa stores have been concentrated in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, so Florida residents not from those areas might do a double take on hearing the name, acknowledges Lori Bruce, Wawa public relations manager. But it helps set the company apart. “It’s kind of a funny name. Some people smile and giggle,’’ Bruce says. “We wouldn’t trade it for anything.’’