A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers

SEWER 1878

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Oldest Dated Bronx Cover?

In the newly annexed areas of the Bronx (c1874) construction of new housing and manufacturing districts closely followed the installation of water and sewer lines. (Which apparently followed the path of the 'boodle' distributed by landowners and speculators.) This early example has no inscription as to whom the boodle was directed, a feature that appeared several years later.


The design is directly descendent from the Croton Aqueduct Department covers from nearly 20 years earlier, except that the number of spokes in the wheel is down to a symmetrical 16. Note also the captain's wheel design of the seating ring, hear with 10 pegs. This design was a prototype for Bronx sewer covers up until the consolidation of the City of New York in 1898.


New sewer lines.


This example from the Mott Haven area sits forlornly under the Bruckner Expressway on Alexander Ave. Similar designs with different dates and further inscriptions can be found throughout the "Annexed District," that is, the Bronx west of the Bronx River.

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Don Burmeister -- Photographs