A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers


Department of Public Works

cover image


This surprisingly fresh-looking cover is from the middle of a street in Long Island City and has the classic design of the studly BSBQ -- Bureau of Sewers Borough of Queens -- sewer lids seen throughout the borough. The Borough Presidents had control over sewers from consolidation (1898) to around 1940, when the sewers were centralized in the citywide DPW. However Long Island City had a DPW before consolidation as well. So was this a model for the boro-wide cover, or a last hurrah for a stalwart design?


Four circles of studs (4-8-16-16) and 26 carefully placed vent holes, with a strong san-sarif text in the center -- sounds like a contender.


A no nonsense sewer hole cover.


This cover is on 54th Ave east of 2nd St in Long Island City. There is another identical cover a few blocks away on 47th Ave. I have not seen any others in LIC or the rest of the city. (Keep your eyes open!)

Related Images Follow

Don Burmeister -- Photographs