iPhoneOgraphy – 30 Jan 2016 (Day 30/366)
A manhole cover is a removable plate forming the lid over the opening of a manhole, to prevent anyone or anything from falling in, and to keep out unauthorized persons and material.
Manhole covers date back at least to the era of ancient Rome, which had sewer grates made from stone.
Manhole covers are often made out of cast iron, concrete or a combination of the two. This makes them inexpensive, strong, and heavy, usually weighing more than 50 kilograms (110 lb). The weight helps to keep them in place when traffic passes over them, and makes it difficult for unauthorised people not having suitable tools to remove them.
Manhole covers may also be constructed from glass-reinforced plastic or other composite material (especially in Europe, or where cover theft is of concern). Because of legislation restricting acceptable manual handling weights, Europe has seen a move towards lighter weight composite manhole cover materials, which also have the benefits of greater slip resistance and electrical insulating properties.
A manhole cover sits on metal base, with a smaller inset rim which fits the cover. The base and cover are sometimes called “castings”, because they are usually made by a casting process, typically sand-casting techniques.
The covers usually feature “pick holes”, into which a hook handle tool is inserted to lift them. Pick holes can be concealed for a more watertight lid, or can allow light to shine through. A manhole pick or hook is typically used to lift them, though other tools can be used as well, including electromagnets.
Although the covers are too large to be easily collectible, their ubiquity and the many patterns and descriptions printed on them has led some people to collect pictures of covers from around the world. According to Remo Camerota, the author of a book on the subject titled Drainspotting, 95% of Japanese municipalities have their own cover design, often with colorful inlaid paint.