The mystery manhole cover on Central Park West

The most interesting manhole covers are the ones that tell us who made it and when it was put in place: the name of an ironworks company, the initials of a city department, a date.

This cover, on Central Park West south of 86th Street, doesn’t offer much in the way of clues.

The two decorative 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 reservoir that existed in the park.

It looks like no other manhole cover I’ve encountered in Manhattan. But there is an identical one in Brooklyn (above). It’s on Eastern Parkway near Prospect Park.

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12 Responses to “The mystery manhole cover on Central Park West”

  1. ytfnyc Says:

    I think they date to about 1900. I’ve seen dozens of these in Brooklyn, but I swear I spotted one in Manhattan the other day. I’ll keep an eye out . . .

  2. chas1133 Says:

    The lack of info makes it more interesting imo..

  3. Bob Says:

    According to “NYC H2O” [https://www.nych2o.org/old-croton-ride-notes-manhole-covers.html], this is an early 1900s cover by the “Dept. of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity”

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Thanks Bob and ytfnyc, I thought it might be older.

      • Bob Says:

        Per “https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/people/18048425/”

        “Initially founded as the New York Board of Water Supply in 1905, the New York City Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity was the predecessor of the present-day Department of Environmental Protection.”

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Interestingly, I just found the same cover on Fifth Ave in the Upper 90s today.

  4. Penny Lee Says:

    Hi–Mike is a buddy of mine on Seabrook but I lived in NY and still have an apartment up there.  I worked in Long Island City for close to 30 years and documented most of the covers in the neighborhood–attached is a shot of one of my favorites.  The cover that’s the subject of the post Mike sent was also well-represented there, if I remember correctly.Penny718.791.6561 —– Forwarded Message —– From: Mike Morris To: Penny Lee Sent: Monday, June 1, 2020, 10:18:55 AM EDTSubject: Fw: Fwd: [New post] The mystery manhole cover on Central Park West Can’t help myself. Our continuing manhole saga! Mike Morris

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

    Begin forwarded message:

  5. Brett Says:

    Very cool post! I’ve posted many unique manhole covers over the years to instagram under #bricksandcastiron – check ’em out. I’d love to figure out the backstory on the “manhattanborn” covers seen around the city.

  6. The "I Guess This Is Phase One?" Edition - The Briefly Says:

    […] Park West’s mystery manhole cover. (Ephemeral New […]

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