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!
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