Competition between proponents of asphalt and concrete for road surfaces has probably benefited both. Determination of the better material takes into account climate, usage, initial and long-term (40-50 year) costs, etc. Public consciousness about asphalt is colored by romantic ideas about "the road" and dystopian associations with the "asphalt jungle." Concrete looks cleaner, more "engineered."
Examples early conceptualization and reception of asphalt. (My transcription, stretching code beyond test.)
The Chambers's article discusses "an ingenious, learned, and speculative Greek, named Eirinis, (who) discovered a fine bed of Asphaltic rock..."
A lengthy extract of the Eyrinis , taken from Malo, can be found in the chapter on "Industrie de l'Asphalte et du Bitumine," in Louise Figuier his : Industries Chimiques (1873-77) 3: 633-676. The passage from Malo begins at page 646.
These digitizations are provided via Gallica, of Biblioth¸que nationale de France. I do not understand the relationship of this title to Figuier's earlier (1867-91).
The Google Book project includes several historical texts on asphalt. Search subject "asphalt", full view only. For example :
Features poem, "Asphalt's Soliloquy" by W. S. Godwin "of the Texas Co."
In that (1867) book, Bell proposes a Visible Speech Telegraphy, by which it "should ultimately be possible for a stranger to enter a Telegraph Office, pronounce his message, and have it despatched in his mother-tongue by one totally ignorant of the import of the sounds; and for the receiver of the message to hear it intelligibly pronounced from the writing by an official equally unacquainted with the meaning of what he reads." (p102)
Patent No. 165,530, July 13, 1875 H. R. Bellamy, Pavement
A few early asphalt patents include
77,565 (May 5, 1868)
Charles P. Alsing, "Improved Asphalt Pavement"
97,983 (October 14, 1869)
Julius Edmund Dotch, "Improved Concrete for Paving and Other Purposes"
103,581 (May 31, 1870)
Edward Joseph de Smedt, "Improvement in Laying Asphalt or Concrete Pavements or Roads"
See a "Famous Belgian" for more information on this patent and inventor.
106,717 (August 23, 1870)
James O'Friel, "Improvement in Treating Bituminous Substances for Pavements, &c."
165,530 (July 13, 1875)
Henry R. Bellamy, "Pavement"
The "current classification" under which asphalt road surfaces can be found is :
404 Road Structure, Process, or Apparatus
with particular attention to these two subclasses :
404/82 Sequential construction of diverse layers
These and related classifications can be found via "tools to help in searching by patent classification" at
Search for patents by classification via patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/search-adv.htm.
In the entry field, you would write, for example, CCL/404/17, taking care to specify immediately below that you are searching "1790 to present [entire database]"
Click on the patent number, then (for the earlier patents) click on "view image" to see TIFFs.
Class numbers and titles are at www.uspto.gov/go/classification/selectnumwithtitle.htm