Certainly one of the more enigmatic pieces of graffiti, these "Toynbee Tiles" (also called Toynbee plaques) refuse to answer most of the six basic questions of reporting.

Nobody knows, actually. It might be an individual, or it might be an organization. One theory suggests it's a message from Mars.
Toynbee Tiles are small rectangular pieces of graffiti set into the asphalt that forms a street. Sometimes they are just white, other times they have red, green, and blue colors added. Occasionally there will be additional work installed nearby in the same fashion, with a longer and even less understandable message.
Not only do Toynbee Tiles appear in the middle of the night, nobody seems to know when they appeared. Some have speculated that they originated in Manhattan, but there are no dates associated with that. Most people who have seen them seem to think they were always there.
These have shown up embedded in the streets of a number of major metropolitan cities in the United States, and reportedly in Brazil and Chile as well. Philadelphia streets have nearly two dozen, New York City at least three dozen, more than a dozen each in Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (one in front of the White House), and Boston and Cincinnati each have a few. At least one Toynbee Tile has been reported in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Atlantic City, and the small Maryland towns of Aberdeen and Edgewood each have one.
Excellent question. Nobody knows this one either.
Not merely stickers or even spray paint like the no more prisons graffiti, Toynbee Tiles are actually embedded in the pavement, flush with the street surface. Just how they get there is also a mystery, as even late at night there is still traffic in cities as large as those listed above. Nobody has ever seen anyone doing this, and depending on the material (also unknown) they may have to be placed while the pavement is still wet.

Some tiles have a variation on the main phrase, saying MOVIE 2001 instead of KUBRICK'S 2001. The reference is, of course, to Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey; the other reference is to the late English historian Arnold Toynbee, who apparently held some beliefs about raising the dead; Jupiter is only seen in 2001's sequel, 2010.

While it seems that a single nutcase must be doing all these, the tiles have appeared in a number of major cities in North and South America, leading to the possibility that one person could not have placed every tile (despite the references to "out to get me" in some of the companion tiles). It has also been suggested that the Bahá'í faith may have something to do with Toynbee Tiles, but that is pure speculation.


My own sightings include a tile at 13th and G Streets NW, and one at 13th and K Streets NW before the construction on my Washington, D.C.-based office building caused that one to be paved over. I have also seen one at the intersection of M Street and Thomas Circle in NW. ive_brussel reports having seen one in Rio de Janeiro as well.

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