New York’s most decorative manhole covers

Usually they’re simply engraved with “Con Edison” or, strangely enough, “NYC Sewer—Made in India.” But sometimes you can spot one that a 19th century iron works company decided to make a little lovelier.

Like this one, with images of stars and fancy “DPW” lettering, found underfoot on a sidewalk at Fifth Avenue and about 100th Street.

“Croton Water” references the old Croton Aqueduct, completed in 1842, which brought clean water to the city from Westchester’s Croton River.

Even more decorative is this fleur-de-lis cover on the sidewalk on Charlton Street off of Sixth Avenue.

It hides a coal hole, into which coal deliverers dumped their wares. This way, coal could reach a building’s basement, where the furnace was, without mucking up a home or office.

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11 Responses to “New York’s most decorative manhole covers”

  1. Nathan Says:

    Here are some more coal chute covers if you’re interested.

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Wow, these are really cool. I also love the carriage post.

    • petey Says:

      when the new luxury bldg was going up on lex between 85th and 86th (because we don’t have enough expensive housing in manhattan), the foundation was dug out and there was an entire line of chutes dropping from lexington into the old tenement cellars. no more to be seen. i didn’t own my little digital camera yet that i now carry with me everywhere.

      • wildnewyork Says:

        That would’ve been a fascinating photo. There must be construction going on like that now, revealing coal holes and such.

  2. bill s Says:

    If you like manhole covers, you’ll love the Melnicks’ “Manhole Covers” published by The MIT Press:

  3. The most beautiful manhole covers in Manhattan « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Many survive to this day, some quite decorative and inventive. […]

  4. phil Says:

    love the ones on cobblestone streets. have one beauty… care to see?

  5. wildnewyork Says:

    Sure, please share!

  6. Croton Water Manhole Cover | CROTON  |  History & Mysteries Says:

    […] See the wonderful blog Ephemeral New York. […]

  7. Manhole covers that left their mark on the city | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Some especially beautiful covers can be found here. […]

  8. The mystery manhole cover on Central Park West | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] stars feel very 19th century. “Water Supply” could certainly mean it was part of the Croton Aqueduct system; its location outside Central Park could be evidence that it had something to do with the receiving […]

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