25 Unique Manhole Covers in the U.S.

Manhole covers can be found in cities throughout the world, and are typically not given a second thought. After all, these unobtrusive, circular covers lead to underground infrastructure, which to most people is out of sight, out of mind. But manhole covers can actually be attractive and interesting, and are sometimes custom-designed and even whimsical. They also have an extensive history.

Beginning around 3500 BCE, stone slabs or wood pieces were first used to provide access to covered trenches that carried sewage away from cities, and this basic design was utilized until around 1850 CE, when the modern manhole was developed to provide access to then-emerging water and wastewater infrastructure. Since that time, manhole covers, which are typically round and weigh up to 300 lbs. each, have been manufactured from cast iron and haven’t changed much.

While many manhole covers are basic, with either no verbiage or a one word, generic label such as “sewer,” there are some unsung treasures throughout the country that are quite eye-catching. Below, we have listed 25 unique manhole covers from all areas of the country, and we encourage you to also go “drainspotting” the next time you find yourself walking city streets. You may be surprised at what you find, so be sure to let us know in the comments if you find any unusual or interesting covers. Enjoy!

Arizona_Brisbee_manhole_cover
This manhole cover from gold mining town Bisbee, Arizona features a mining cart filled with gold nuggets

 

Arizona_manhole_cover
Desert town Peoria, Arizona has a cactus and the sun on its manhole covers
Arizona_Phoenix_manhole_cover
This manhole cover from Phoenix, Arizona sports its namesake, a phoenix
California_McCloud_manhole_cover
McCloud, California is located in the northern part of the state, nestled at the base of Mt. Shasta, which is featured on its manhole cover
Chattanooga_manhole_cover
The town seal for Chattanooga, Tennessee, which includes the cannon located on Lookout Mountain overlooking the town, is featured on this manhole cover
Colorado_Denver_manhole_cover
The artsy, historic district in the town of Denver, Colorado features a hand-drawn design on its manhole covers
Disneyland_manhole_cover
Mickey Mouse adorns the manhole covers found in Disneyland, California
Florida_Jacksonville_manhole_cover
This manhole cover in the City of Jacksonville, Florida, named for Andrew Jackson, features the seventh President of the United States riding his horse
Florida_manhole_cover
The City of Hollywood, Florida illustrates its tagline, Diamond of the Gold Coast, on this manhole cover
florida_pelican_manhole_cover
This brightly painted manhole cover featuring a pelican adorns the sidewalk of St. Petersburg, Florida
Kansas_manhole_cover
In an effort to keep their environment clean, the City of Hutchinson, Kansas chose to emblazon a fish with the message “No Dumping” on its manhole covers
Staying true to its roots, New Orleans, Louisiana has a somewhat magical manhole cover Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org
Staying true to its roots, New Orleans, Louisiana has a somewhat magical manhole cover
Photo courtesy PDPhoto.org
new_mexico_manhole_cover
In 2006, Albuquerque, New Mexico replaced many of their manhole covers with this decorative design in commemoration of their tricentennial celebration
Massachusetts_Boston_manhole_cover
This plain manhole cover emblazoned with “Boston Sewer” sits amid a cobblestone street in the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts
Michigan_manhole_cover
This artistic manhole cover adorns a street in Detroit, Michigan; photo courtesy of Michele Oberholtzer
Minnesota_Duluth_Bod_Dylan_manhole_cover
Duluth, Minnesota’s manhole covers on Bob Dylan Way pay tribute to the City’s most famous son
Minnesota_Minneapolis_manhole_cover
Minneapolis, Minnesota, known as the “City of Lakes” and known for its fishing, has manhole covers adorned with aquatic life and underwater vegetation
Louisville Kentucky manhole cover
This visually pleasing manhole cover in Louisville, Kentucky was adapted for use as cover art for the book “Manhole Covers” by Mimi Melnick
nebraska_manhole_cover
This manhole cover Omaha, Nebraska celebrates some of the City’s history
While these manhole covers in front of the Music School in New York City are nondescript on their own, the artwork tying the two together is both creative and playful
While these manhole covers in front of the Music School in New York City are nondescript on their own, the artwork tying the two together is both creative and playful
Pennsylvania_manhole_cover
This manhole cover in Erie, Pennsylvania is extremely detailed with historical illustrations
Tennessee_manhole_cover
Gatlinburg, Tennessee chose to showcase a squirrel on its manhole covers
Utah_StGeorge_manhole_cover
This manhole cover in St. George, Utah features some rustic artwork
Washington_Seattle_gasworks_park_manhole_cover
Swirling illustrations of waves, marine life, and swimmers adorn this manhole cover found in Seattle, Washington
Virginia_Norfolk_manhole_cover_misspelled
In 2012, this manhole covering Norfolk, Virginia was brought to the attention of local government due to its misspelling of the City’s name; the manhole cover has since been replaced


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