Posts Tagged ‘19th Century Manhole Covers’

The mystery manhole cover on Central Park West

June 1, 2020

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.

“Hugs and kisses” on a Murray Hill manhole cover

February 17, 2020

New York City’s old manhole covers have an artistry all their own. Some feature glass bubbles that looks like jewels in the right light. Others are decorated with stars or similar emblems, and almost all have the name of the designer or foundry on them, advertisements for their work.

But what to make of this manhole cover spotted in front of East 35th Street near Fifth Avenue?

Jordan Wouk, a manhole cover enthusiast, noticed it on the way to the Morgan Library recently. It lacks an identifying name, contains a single starfish-like star, and the Xs and Os decorating the lid were a mystery.

The message I got was “hugs and kisses,” says Mr. Wouk.

It’s a little late to make this a Valentine’s Day post, but I like this interpretation. The cover is sending love to contemporary New Yorkers—and asking us to take notice of this and other hiding-in-plain-sight remnants of an older Gotham.

[Photo © Jordan Wouk]