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Wednesday, July 14, 2010 09:42 am

Environmental street art

Sewage. It happens. And, typically, it ain’t pretty. But! Check it out: decorative manhole covers

A photograph of just one of many artsy manhole covers on Japan’s streets, the image is from Remo Camerota’s book Drainspotting. There are plenty more photos here.

I only happened to discover how cool water infrastructure can be because I click on all links/tweets/headlines that contain some form of the word “sewer” (My all-time favorite topic. Weird, I know. I’m easing you into it now.) But apparently there’s an entire world of manhole cover appreciation.

According to this guy, utility companies and cities often have their very own manhole design … which must be what makes the International Manhole Cover Museum possible. It’s in Farrara, Italy. Screw Venice and its gondolas! (Besides, those little love boats float down canals into which households historically have directly dumped their sewage. Romantic, no?)

But, if I can’t make it to Farrara, I’m hoping to find some postcards by Floridian Bobbi Mastrangelo, who paints pictures of manholes. My favorite is the “save water” version. 

They call Bobbi “the grate artist,” but the “grand dame of manhole covers” (or the “Manhole Cover Lady”) is Diana Stuart. She wrote a book – 128 pages. With pictures – 400. She crusades for manhole cover preservation in New York City. 

I'm pretty sure I want to meet her.

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