A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers

Croton Aqueduct Dpt 1862

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What's 160 years old nowadays?

The Croton Aqueduct Department (1849-1869) was a New York City department charged with maintaining the recently opened Croton Aqueduct and eventually maintaining the resulting sewer lines and then the paving of streets made muddy with the water that the new aqueduct brought in. The 1862 date on this cover is the earliest dated cover still seen on the streets.


The circles with spokes design was a practical and attractive way to provide traction and prevent slipping on wet or icy days for both people and horses. It is unusual in that it has 18 equally spaced spokes in the outer ring


Probably it was part of the distribution system from the reservoir on 42nd St.


There are few Croton Aqueduct covers with this design still extant (6 by my count in 2021), with no others from 1862. This one is on the sidewalk of Eighth Ave just south of W 40th St. in Manhattan.

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Don Burmeister -- Photographs