Most of us walk right over manhole covers without noticing them. Lucky for us, Eli Zvuluny of Tel Aviv not only notices them but also photographs and researches them.
Five years ago, while on a morning stroll near Yarkon Park, he began looking closely at the assortment of manhole covers atop the unseen tunnels holding the city’s infrastructure for sewage, water, communication, electricity and more.
He stopped to admire the distinct shape, size and design of each cover. And he started looking for more.
Five years ago, Zvuluny started a website, Ultimate Manhole Covers, that now contains images and details of 8,072 covers from 63 countries and 565 cities.
Zvuluny himself snapped around 6,000 of those shots on his travels around Israel and the world; the rest are contributed.
“The manhole covers in this site are the bridge between the upper and lower city,” says Zvuluny, who also created a wonderful website of Israeli street sign images.
The websites are “only” hobbies. Zvuluny’s profession is managing a business called Possible Worlds that makes software solutions for Internet and multimedia projects.
Below are some outstanding examples of the 4,238 Israeli manhole covers documented on Ultimate Manhole Covers. Click here to see them all.
This cover was designed by Kobi Levy. Three ovals, reminiscent of a fish, symbolize the three religions, languages and cultures found in Jaffa. By multiplying the image, Levy evoked the idea of sea waves associated with the port. An image of this manhole cover was included in an exhibition at the Design Museum in Holon in 2021.
This cover designed by Anna Styllanou won first place in a sewage cap design competition initiated by Mei Avivim Company in late 2019. On the lid are motifs from Tel Aviv such as the fountain at Dizengoff Square, a statue by Menashe Kadishman, the beach, the clock tower in Jaffa and Ben-Gurion Airport.
Here’s a headscratcher: a manhole cover on Ben-Gurion Boulevard in central Tel Aviv that was clearly built for “Neighborhood 26” in the Negev Bedouin city of Rahat. Made by Vulcan Foundries in 2000, it seems to have lost its way and found a good home.
A statue of Tel Aviv’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, on his horse is a favorite Instagram spot on Rothschild Boulevard. If you look down on the sidewalk, you’ll see the statue immortalized on a manhole cover as well. It’s one in a series of special covers installed along the city’s Independence Trail.
The symbol in the center of this lid is the emblem of the city of Rishon LeZion, founded in 1882. The caption in the emblem reads, “We found water.” The Meniv Rishon water utility company commissioned this lid to cover sewage infrastructure and it was placed in 2015. The text includes a number to call in case of a water emergency.
The Lighting Department of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan installed this attractive manhole cover on Bialik Street in 1997. Made by Yetzikat Hamifratz, it’s adorned with the city emblem and enhanced by a lightning icon, hinting at its utility.
Another manhole cover atop lighting infrastructure can be found on Herzl Boulevard in Jerusalem, also made by Yetzikat Hamifratz. It was set in 2010 and features the familiar lion emblem of Israel’s capital city.
Going north to Acre (Akko), we find this picturesque manhole cover in the Old City that features motifs of the ancient port city where the Crusaders left their mark. Dating from 2003, it was made by Vulcan Foundries.
Menashe Baruch & Co. made this lid on Ha-Nekhoshet Street featuring the old emblem of the southern port city of Ashdod (notice the anchor). Underneath lie the guts of the city’s traffic-light system.
Who says a manhole cover must be monochromatic? This lovely blue lid in coastal Ashkelon, installed in 2005 by Yetzikat Hamifratz, provides a clue that the municipal water infrastructure is hidden beneath.