This site is a big fan of the 19th century cast-iron covers that dot the city’s streets and sidewalks—covers that once opened into utility holes or coal chutes.
Many survive to this day, some quite decorative and inventive.
But perhaps the loveliest of all are those built with ornamental design and colored vault lights—small bubbles of glass that allowed sunlight into the underground space.
Jacob Mark (later Jacob Mark Sons) was a leading manufacturer of vault lights and architectural iron work in the late 1800s. His whimsical covers—patented in 1870—with their six-sided stars still glitter a little when the sun catches the glass the right way.
The top one is on Waverly Place and MacDougal Street; the bottom cover, Madison Avenue and 37th Street.
More examples of Jacob Mark’s vault lights can be found here.