A Field Guide to New York City Manhole Covers


Battery Park City

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Teardrop Park in the northern reaches of Battery Park City in Manhattan is a beautiful little park with some very impressive stone constructions that define the space of it's 1.8 acres. For those of us who keep our eyes on the ground there is this small relic from a 2009 sound art project. Created by 4 artists Ann Hamilton, Michael Mercil, Ben Rubin, and Ned Rothenberg, this cover was one of 5 that were installed in the park and which played a selection of sounds of birds, insects and other critters throughout the day. Sadly, there seems to be only one of these drain-cover speakers remaining and it was quiet on the several occasions I have been there (2019-2021).


The design is a fairly standard design with a badge across the center reading MURMERATION. It is unclear whether this was a deliberate misspelling or not.


It appeares to be a working runoff drain, although there are no other similar covers in the park. Most of the missing covers may have been replaced by the brick inlay style covers seen throughout the surrounding area (see below.)


This is the only one at Teardrop Park, the fate of the missing 4 is unknown.

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Don Burmeister -- Photographs