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The History of Gutters

concrete gutter system

There was a time when skyscraper gutters in Chicago, Illinois were gloriously crowned with gargoyles like those that top the Tribune Tower. They aren’t easy to see from the sidewalk on Michigan Avenue, but these fantasy creatures represent a watershed in the history of gutters. It might be hard to believe that gargoyles were a high-tech innovation in their day, but consider how it all got started.

Before There Were Roofs

Mankind has always been resourceful, so directing the flow of water runoff was a natural byproduct of the need to control waste and corral drinking water. Before there were roofs overhead, plumbing problems were solved with troughs that eventually inspired the Roman Empire. If their aqueducts had been constructed like modern seamless gutters in Chicago, Illinois, the civilization might not have fallen. As they conquered Britain, the Romans exported their building expertise, and their simple troughs and viaducts were quickly elevated to rooftops.

Gargoyles, Downspouts and Gutter Disputes

By the late 1100s, stone creatures spewed rain water from gutters away from walls and foundations. Gargoyles protected buildings for another 200 years until downspouts on the Tower of London stole their thunder. As urban living became cramped, the city’s population grew tired of dodging downpours from roofs, so gutter systems quickly spread. However, their popularity led to disputes over soaked property lines that often landed in local courts. By the 1400s, these fierce civil disagreements coined a phrase that still stands the test of time: gutter language.

From the Original Colonists to Chicago

Colonists first settling America’s shore left a number of luxuries behind in England including cast iron gutters. They made do with simple V-shaped wood constructions attached to their roofs, but industrialization came to the rescue by the early 1800s. American ingenuity took off with internal systems in skyscrapers, industrial metal rolling operations and synthetic materials. The early 1960s revolutionized production with the downspouts and seamless aluminum gutters that Chicago, Illinois home and business owners enjoy today.

While your house doesn’t need a system as complex as those that defend the downtown skyline, many seamless gutters on Chicago, Illinois homes still have impressive pedigrees. The history of LeafGuard by Beldon started with an American dream in 1945 and continues today on an international scale. Surprisingly, there are no museums dedicated to gutter history. If they’re ever built, chances are good they’ll be protected by LeafGuard.


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