A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers

Bureau of Sewers Borough of Manhattan

A Five Pointed Star

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The Borough Presidents Step Forward

After the consolidation of the five boroughs into New York City in 1898, the responsiblities and rewards of expanding the sewer systems were delegated to the five Borough Presidents. The block by block extensions were well marked by the Presidents, perhaps none more so than by this star and seal of progress from the Manhattan office.


The exuberant design is directly descendent from the pre-consolidation wheel and spoke design for Manhattan sewers. The central star seems to have invoked this 10 spoke design, and the large vents make this cover as much a drain as a sewer cap.


Bureau of Sewers. Unlike Brooklyn, Manhattan did not have separate storn and sanitary sewers.


There are still quite a few of these guys around, although the delicate lettering and ridges have often been filled. This particularly well preserved example is at Grand and Crosby Streets in Soho.

Related Images Follow

Don Burmeister -- Photographs