The first major city in the United States to pave its streets was Newark, New Jersey, in 1870. Prior to this, asphalt pavement was only used for sidewalks and crosswalks in the United States. Washington, D.C., became the second U.S. city to add paved streets soon after Newark.
The first asphalt roads were laid in Yorkshire, England, in 1717 by John Metcalf. Paved roads slowly spread through England and Scotland as building methods improved, and paved roads eventually became popular in continental Europe as well. Edmund J. DeSmedt, a chemist from Belgium, was responsible for many of the early paved roads in the United States.