Beautiful not least because Mimi and Bob found art and design, found humanity and dignity, in a gritty and ignored urban artifact.
February 4, 2006 10:08 AM   Subscribe

The Japanese make beautiful manholes. Original idea by Mimi and Robert Melnick who started this obsession back in 1974. Also some early Sewer Designs & previous manhole thread.
posted by Lanark (18 comments total)
Wow, those are beautiful. Thanks! It's really need to see pride of craftsmanship in something like that.
posted by selfnoise at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2006

This is cool. Thanks alot, Lanark.
posted by Tullius at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2006

Very nice, certainly adding to urban decoration. I wonder how long till advertisers get the clue and ruin it.
posted by elpapacito at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2006

I've always liked our local manhole covers. They're pretty, in a utilitarian sort of way. They're made in Michigan, just southwest (?) of Charlevoix, in a little ironworks in a town called East Jordan.

I don't know what I'd do with it but I've always wanted to steal one.

Now I'm curious -- do any of you remember seeing East Jordan Iron Works manhole covers where you live? I'm not sure if they supply them to the whole country or just Michigan or the Midwest or what.
posted by jenii at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

wow. thats just beautiful.
posted by stackmonster at 10:52 AM on February 4, 2006

(If I knew where the UBC cable for my camera is, I'd run outside and take a picture of one and post it here. But I don't.)
posted by jenii at 10:52 AM on February 4, 2006

Fantastic. I'm now ashamed of my nation's manholes.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 11:15 AM on February 4, 2006

posted by amro at 11:51 AM on February 4, 2006

Pretty or plain, manhole covers have a bad habit of disappearing, with nasty consequences. Are your city sewers secure?

Lanark, thanks for the link to The History of Sanitary Sewers. It's an excellent site about an engineering marvel that we take far too much for granted:
Cesspools for human wastes were frequently placed under the floors (often made of wood) of castles. In 1183, when the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire held a Diet in the Palace of Efurt, the floor of the main hall broke; many of the dinner guests fell into the cesspool and drowned; luckily, the Emperor survived. A similar event occurred in England in 1326: Richard the Raker had just been seated for a meal when the wood floor gave way -- drowning him.
More about Medieval sewerage here.
posted by cenoxo at 12:13 PM on February 4, 2006

Wow I had no idea such thefts are so common - thats even worse than all the bronze public artworks being stolen for scrap in the UK
posted by Lanark at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2006

Seattle manholes are like this, with the design a streetmap of the city, very nice.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:17 PM on February 4, 2006

east jordan man holes are all over, my last name is jordan so i always look for them wherever i go, i have fond them all over the country and even in canada...if anyone wanted to know.
posted by stilgar at 1:38 PM on February 4, 2006

those would make nice manhole burn tattoos.
posted by c at 2:55 PM on February 4, 2006

this is the sort of thing i love metafilter for.

posted by craven_morhead at 5:35 PM on February 4, 2006

At Drainspotting (which I really need to overhaul one of these days) you can find East Jordan Ironworks, Japanese covers, some of my favorites, and more disorganized manhole links than you can shake a stick at.

Also, there are some flickr groups (manhole, gullydeckel) and tags (manholecover, manhole).
posted by hades at 8:21 PM on February 4, 2006

It seems the world market for steel/iron peaked in late 2004/early 2005 and is now dropping back to normality - so hopefully the streets wont all turn into "Blackburn Lancashire"
posted by Lanark at 3:49 AM on February 5, 2006

Very nice. I always thought that manhole covers were round so that they couldn't fall into the holes, though, so it's odd that some of these are rectangular. Do they have some other mechanism to prevent that happening?
posted by Who_Am_I at 7:44 AM on February 5, 2006

If you follow the links above (not sure which one, sorry; I think it was in the previous manhole cover thread, though) you'll find that there are also triangular manhole covers. Those can fall on your head, too. (Maybe if you're a sewer worker and your manhole covers aren't circular, you wear a better hardhat.)

Also, hades, thanks for the links. And I wanted to know, so thanks, stilgar.
posted by jenii at 6:27 PM on February 5, 2006

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