Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Brownstone Brooklyn Coal Chute Covers

There has become considerable interest lately in the preservation and study of the many different styles of manhole covers to be found on our streets. I think it's time to do the same with coal chute covers. These photos were all taken in the Brooklyn Heights area, mostly on Hicks and Henry Streets.

Just about all brownstones were built in the 19th Century, and were initially heated by coal. In front of each house was a coal chute decorated with the name of the company which supplied the fuel, typically via horse cart. The designs on these covers were not simply decorative; they provided traction so that pedestrians did not slip on them during wet weather.

The bottom photo is of a chute cover owned by the W Taylor company of "Brooklyn, LI." Here is an intact example of a pre-Consolidation address, from when Brooklyn was a separate city.


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