A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers

N.Y.M & N.T.Co.

New York Mail and Newspaper Transportation Co.

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Pneumatic Tubes

This worn cover in Soho, Manhattan is one of the few remaining mementos of a large network of underground pneumatic tubes that extended from Brooklyn to 125th St. Built for the fast delivery of mail and newspapers between post offices, the service started in lower Manhattan in 1897 and was still partially operational when it closed in 1953.


Single Weave pattern with san-sarif lettering. The simple design has occasionally been used by telephone and cable companies to this date.


The covers mark the lines of the pnuematic tubes and were used to access the underground tubes when the 8 inch canisters occasionally got stuck.


This example is on Greene St. north of Spring St. on the line of the pneumatic tubes originating at the old General Post Office south of City Hall and extending up the west side to 125th St. At least two other examples, one on Pearl St. and one on E 40th St. are still extant (circa 2020) although how much of the underground infrastructure survives is unclear.

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Don Burmeister -- Photographs