You don’t always notice them underfoot as you walk down New York’s sidewalks. But these old manhole and coal chute covers—the ones with the name and address of the ironworks company that created it—provide clues about an older, vanished city.
Take this one above, made by the homey-sounding I. Claman Stove Repairs company. It was spotted on Washington Place in the West Village.
I. Claman was located at 94 Orchard Street, an address now occupied by a craft brewery that caters to a young, social, moneyed crowd.
B. Masor & Co. used to make manhole covers like this one, found off the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, at 721-31 East 133rd Street.
I’m not sure if the address is for Manhattan or for the Bronx. Either way, the business is kaput.
Abbott Hardware, once at Columbus Avenue in the West 90s, created this coal hole cover. It’s still part of the sidewalk on St. Luke’s Place off Seventh Avenue South.
But the days of upper Columbus Avenue housing an ironworks company are long over. The old tenements there were razed decades ago to make way for big-box apartments—strangely all in the same shade of beige.