The manhole cover on Jersey street was New York’s oldest manhole cover and used to allow access to the Croton Aqueduct, built in the early 1840s.
Although the aqueduct was drained to create the Great Lawn in Central Park, this tiny manhole in SoHo was a tribute to the infrastructure that supported a growing metropolis from the days of horse and buggy travel.
Update March 2018: Sadly, the city of New York has replaced this manhole cover. There are others you can see around Central Park.
Know Before You Go
Head to Central Park to see other manhole covers. If you enter Central Park on at 85th Street on the west side and take the smaller path to the left, they're about 70 steps in.