A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers

1956 Campbell Foundry Co


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Dated Sewer

Sometime in the mid-20th century, the Campbell Foundry in Harrison New Jersey started producing utility covers with this basic design (which in a later catalog is called pattern number 1049). There are variations with this one being a bare bones example with just the 4 digits representing the year of it's manufacture in the center and the foundry name and city on the outer rim. Are there other years you ask? How about 1949 1953 1954 1956 1957 1958 1972 1983 1986 1992 1993 1994 1996 1997 1998 ...and maybe more!


The design stems from earlier wagon wheel designs, in this case in what would have been a 12 spoke wheel, the two horizontal spokes are supplanted by two thinner off-center bars forming in effect a transparent badge.


In both its design and in its placement this design was frequently associated with drains and sewers, especially in City sponsored projects such as parks, housing or in this case the entrace ramp to the Harlem River Drive.


This design can be spotted throughout the city, with inscribed dates ranging from 1949 to 1998, and with seemingly newer variants still being installed.* This cover is on the Harlem River Driveway down from 155th St in Manhattan.

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Don Burmeister -- Photographs