Regularly, we prowl around the amazing exterior of our building, either just wandering in awe of the simple fact that it's ours (kinda) or meeting out front with sign makers/installers, trying to figure out how the heck to bring visibility to our business, while treating the venerable structure in kid-glove/least invasive fashion.
During one of these exterior jaunts, Ed Teagle, our intrepid building engineer, pointed out a copper disc embedded in the front left pillar of the stairs leading up to our entrance; the date on the disc says 1933. Ed works for Hughes Development, our landlord, and makes the rounds on lots of properties. He mentioned finding one of these on the top of the Bank of America building from the '70s.
Friends, we have been benchmarked.
Finding out word etymology of a term you have cavalierly thrown out for decades is a bit treasure-hunty. A benchmark (or, yes, "bench mark" works, too) was a literal horizontal slash carved by the first surveyors into stone structures. They would fit an iron leveling rod into the space to mark an elevation, making sense of the land around, pointing the way. If you want to find out more about the modern expression of this, the National Geodetic Survey, or, perhaps, just need a sleep aid, click here: http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/INFO/WhatWeDo.shtml.
The Cliff Notes version is that this marking of elevation has been happening for centuries. Our building tagged the year construction began on the Golden Gate bridge, the year Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor, the year "The Lone Ranger" started it's radio program run, and the year our own Richard W. Riley was born.
History can often run through our memory-fingers like water. Or sometimes we stand around with big buckets soaking it up, preserving what we can, paying attention. We benchmark soon, in our own way, with some literary inspired banners designed by local artist David Gerhard (blog post to come!)...