We were able to watch the process of a large-scale recycling project which ran through the streets of Ann Arbor on Sunday and finished up just a block from our house. No, it wasn't a newspaper drive or anything like that. Rather, it was the moving of the Polhemus House from Washington Street to Pontiac Trail, just a block away from our house.
Dietz House Moving Engineers, the company that handled the move, calls themselves members of the "world's oldest recycling industry." I think that there are other kinds of recycling and reusing materials that pre-date moving houses, but I'm not here to quibble. Moving structurally sound houses (particularly ones that are historically interesting) instead of tearing them down is a great way of preserving resources. Construction processes and construction debris are responsible for a significant portion of the waste stream, and moving a house saves both the old structure from entering a landfill as well as all the waste that would be generated from new construction.
I took the boys out and we walked a couple blocks to watch the house climb Pontiac Trail with two front-end loaders providing extra pull to bring the house up the hill.
Then we went back a little while later to watch as it was wheeled onto its lot. We saw a lot of friends and neighbors (as well as a lot of other people) who has turned out to watch the proceedings. There were an amazing number of utility trucks and crews who were taking down and then replacing lots of utility cables that were in the way.
My own pictures of the process are in a Flickr photoset. And if someone knows a good video hosting site, I also shot some video clips that I'd love to share as well. And really, don't you want to see some action pictures of a couple hundred tons of brick on the hoof?