Posts Tagged ‘241 West 13th Street’

The coal hole cover of West 13th Street

June 21, 2010

This cast-iron cover outside the tenement at 241 West 13th Street looks like a regular ¬†manhole cover. But because it’s a smaller in diameter and is actually built into the sidewalk , it warranted a closer look.¬†

Turns out it doesn’t lead to the sewer but to a coal hole: a storage area for coal when it was widely used for heat in the 19th century. A coal merchant could deliver the coal from the street without having to enter the building.

This cover was made by a company on Goerck Street, near the Williamsburg Bridge, renamed Baruch Place in 1933.

But coal holes had some other inadvertent uses. The New York Times archives contains many articles about prisoners escaping jail through a coal hole . . . as well as accidents involving a fall into one.