If you’ve crossed the street at Van Ness and Market recently you may have noticed a strange little plaque embedded in the road near the crosswalk. It reads:
HOUSE OF HADES
ONE MAN VERSUS
IN SOCIETY 2015
Turns out it’s not alone; many strangely worded linoleum plaques have appeared in roadways all over the US and South America since the 80’s. They’re known as Toynbee tiles, a reference to the wording of some of the earliest ones. You can find more via Google Image Search.
Who’s installing them? One filmmaker produced a documentary film on the subject — but never resolved the mystery entirely. The general consensus seems to be that these plaques originated in or near Philadelphia. The tiles later spread and changed in their messages. One theory is there are now multiple copycats, an idea supported by an Instructables video demonstrating how to make your own.
Still, knowing what these plaques are called and where they came from doesn’t tell us about who placed this particular one at Van Ness and Market or what its message is intended to convey. For now at least, that remains a mystery.