A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers



cover image

Pre-Consolidation Sewer on Staten Island

This old cover probably dates back to before New York City consolidation in 1898. The inscription seems to read SEWER R Co. -- Richmond County. from before sewer maintenance and construction was taken over by the city and the Borough President. This could well be the oldest cover in the borough.


The design is a simplified version of the Bronx 'Ferris Wheel' which started in the 1880's, but it is without the lines that transect each of the eight circles in that design, and without the vent holes seen in many of that type. The 8 lugs on the outer seating of the well-fitted cover seems to suggest an early date for the cover as well.


SEWER is a pretty clear indication of this cover's utility, but the lower part of the inscription, with a partially obscured letter that only suggests an R (compare to the R of SEWER) provides a bit of a mystery as to its origin.


This cover is located in Tomkinsville Park on Staten Island and is the only instance that I have encountered or seen documented.

Related Images Follow

Don Burmeister -- Photographs