A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers

D.P.W. SEWER 1872

Department of Public Works (NYC)

cover image

West Side Expansion

Before the arrival of the Croton Water in 1842, there was little infrastructure for waste water removal in Manhattan Today, on Manhattan's Upper West Side there are still quite a few reminders of the large expansion of sewer coverage during the 1870's. Most of the sewerage being drained off into the nearby Hudson River.


This elegant 1872 is a direct descendent of the Croton Aqueduct Department's dated covers from the 1860s. It has a 6 spoked wheel in the center, and, just like the aqueduct covers, 17 spokes in the outer circle. Note also the outer stubs, that were designed to stabilize the cover setting, ane which induced in at least one writer the image of a captains wheel.


Although water pipes were still under the aegis of the Croton Water Commission in the 1870s, the sewer lines in Manhattan were built by a new department - Public Works.


This cover is on Broadway at 120th St., but there may be a dozen other similar lids on all sides of the Columbia University and in front of the Cathedral of St. John the Devine.

Related Images Follow

Don Burmeister -- Photographs