Coal holes are bunkers beneath the sidewalk in front of a house that originally used coal for heat: Delivery companies would drop a shipment down the hatch, and the coal could go right into the basement and wouldn’t dirty up the home.
You still see them dotting sidewalks all over the city, especially in neighborhoods with lots of beautiful brownstones built in the 19th century.
No surprise, then, that pretty sidewalks of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill are filled with decorative examples.
This one was made by Empire Foundry. A Brooklyn Daily Eagle ad from 1854 says they’re located “one block from the Fulton Ferry.”
The John Brooks foundry made this cover on Navy Street, right in the middle of where the Ingersoll Houses are today.
This lid was probably a lot prettier and more colorful back in the day. The address says 5 Worth Street; I wonder if it’s part of the Jacob Mark Sons Foundry at 7 Worth Street.
Even though it was spotted out of the neighborhood a bit on Atlantic Avenue and I think it’s a regular manhole cover, I wanted to include this one, with its wonderful lettering. Castle Bros. apparently paved most of Flatbush.