A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers



cover image

New Design in the Bronx

After the annexation of the parts of Westchester County into New York City in 1874, the control of sewers was moved from the Croton Aquaduct Commission to first the Central Park Commission, then after a few years to the new Department of Public Parks for the 23rd and 24th Wards. A new design for the sewer covers was begun probably sometime after 1883.


This dynamic and distintive design has 8 transected circles around a slightly larger central circle. In this case all the circles have a vent hole in the center. This design, which is somewhat suggestive to me of a ferris wheel, was the basis of sewer covers in the Bronx for at least 50 years. A simpler version of this design, which may have been a precursor, can still be found on Staten Island in Tomkinsville Park.


Although the D.P.P. is slightly obscure today, it is clear what lies beneath this attractive cover.


The "ferris wheel" design can be found throughout the Bronx, with variations of department name, lettering and vent holes. Staten Island is the only other borough to adapt this design as a standard, but outliers and orphans can be found in other boroughs as well. This cover was seen in Mott Haven on E 139th St.

Related Images Follow

Don Burmeister -- Photographs