Brief History of Some of New York City's Varied and Detailed Manhole Covers

Astoria’s Mitch Waxman is a historian with the Newtown Creek Alliance and knows his stuff when it comes to NYC history.

A recent article on his excellent blog The Newtown Pentacle takes a look at some of the more interesting manhole covers seen throughout the City, and talks a little bit about its history.

The history of NYC can literally be found right there beneath your feet, especially once you learn how to read the signs and sigils left behind by earlier generations. Access, or Manhole covers, are everywhere. Research has shown that Federal Roadway regulations state a preference for State and Local governments to either replace an access cover with an exact copy from the original foundry, or just leave the old one in place. This means, since most of these things were put in place before the World Wars of the early 20th century, that there are iron or steel discs adorning the “via publica” which can tell the tale of Municpal organization, consolidation, dissolution, and indeed gentrification scattered about.

Check out the full article to learn more about any/all of these covers.

Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's food scene with his Wife and the outdoors with their three dogs. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time working from a treadmill desk at home.

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