I spotted this curious message on a Philadelphia sidewalk in 2008, and found that it was one of many located around the city.
Known as Toynbee tiles (also called Toynbee plaques), the tiles carry a cryptic message referencing Arnold J. Toynbee, a famous historian and the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Found embedded in asphalt in over twenty major cities in the United States and four South American capitals, several hundred tiles of these tiles have been discovered since the 1980s.
Most contain variations on the following inscription:
IN Kubrick’s 2001
ON PLANET JUPITER.
These author of these tiles is unknown, although James Morasco (May 6, 1915 – March 15, 2003), a Philadelphia carpenter, has been cited as the possible culprit.
Philadelphia-based independent filmmakers Justin Duerr, Jon Foy, Colin Smith, and Steve Weinik have created a documentary about the tiles called ‘Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles’ which has just won the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary category.
See the story behind the film here: