A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers


510 PEARL ST. N.Y.

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Early vault light in Brooklyn

George Tice and Jacob Jacobs became business partners in 1880 and began as specialists in vault lighting. The coal cover business was a natural outgrowth of this and here we see what was probably an early example of their work. In addition to their larger architectural vault light work, they continued to make coal hole covers, often without the glass plugs, but with a design that suggested them. Tice and Jacobs were in business until 1905, and the business was continued by Jacobs alone until 1911. Much of this information and more can be gotten from Walter Grutchfield of course.


The cover sits directly over the coal hole, a hexagonal cut in the bluestone sidewalk with no metal seating. Lines of small green and white glass "lenses" are interspersed with iron studs for protection. One wonders how much light actually seeped through.


Home delivery of coal was a growing business in the 1880's particularly is areas such as Brooklyn Heights.


This cover is on Willow St. in Brooklyn Heights between Clark and Pierrepont Streets. It is the only one with this design that I have encountered.

Related Images Follow

Don Burmeister -- Photographs