Asphalt increased the utility or roads by allowing horses to travel faster, carriages and bicycles ride more smoothly, and (later) enabled cars.
Natural asphalt paved the Champs-Élysées in 1824. However, it was unstable and difficult to maintain.
de Smedt created an artificial asphalt, manufactured from oil, that was more consistent and manageable than natural asphalt. His first asphalt street was laid on William St., in Newark St., NJ, Jul. 29, 1870. Today, all paved roads used de Smedt asphalt.
“In the very midst of the city, the ground was covered by some dark stuff that silenced all the wheels and muffled the sound of hoofs. It was like tar, but Papa was sure it was not tar, and it was something like rubber, but it could not be rubber because rubber cost too much. We saw ladies all in silks and carrying ruffled parasols, walking with their escorts across the street. Their heels dented the street, and while we watched, these dents slowly filled up and smoothed themselves out. It was as if that stuff were alive. It was like magic.”Laura Ingalls Wilder