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Why are manhole covers round? – ‘The Why’

Why are manhole covers round?

Welcome to today’s edition of The Why.

Everywhere you look the media is pushing you telling you who to follow, what to watch and when to watch it.   You’re even sometimes told how to do it all.  Truth is, here at American Live Wire we do a bit of that too.  The big difference is we also tell you why.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

“Why are manhole covers round?” you ask?

Believe it or not, “Why are manhole covers round?” is one of those hip, oddball questions Google springs on people in interviews.  Yours truly wishes at least one applicant would just once respond: “They’re round so that when I murder you for asking e stupid questions that have nothing to do with this job I’ll have less difficulty disposing of your body.”

why are manhole covers round

Why are manhole covers round?

Check out Forbes’ website or Glassdoor.com.  “Why are manhole covers round?”  is in the “Top Ten” interview questions.  Don’t get e started on the Google gods.  Someone should ask Mr. Google where he would be if everyone would “Yahoo” or “Bing” things for which they are searching. (“But, I digress . . . “as author Peter David would say.)

“Why are manhole covers round?” you ask?

They are round because the holes and they cover are round.  They are round because way back when engineers first designed streets it was really easy to draw them on blueprints by tracing a dime (or a penny depending on the scale).

Not good enough?  OK.  One urban legend in New York City and here in California is that manhole covers are round so that city employees cannot possibly drop them into the manhole.

The fact is there is logic to that answer.  If manhole covers were other shapes it would be possible to hold them at different angles and drop them into the hole.  Even an oval-shaped manhole cover could be dropped into a manhole.

Therefore, the best shape to use is a round circular shape.  (Don’t forget that there is a lip around the inside of a manhole upon which the manhole cover rests.  Thus the diameter of the manhole is reportedly approximately an inch less than that of the cover.)

Some might opine that certain triangular shapes would also not fall into the hole.  However, one must remember that workers must remove and replace the covers.   This brings us to yet another answer to today’s question: “Why are manhole covers round?”

They are round because that overweight, aging possibly unionized city employee isn’t a weightlifter.  A round manhole cover can be rolled on its edge.  Try doing that with a big, heavy metal triangle.

why are manhole covers round

Why are manhole covers round?

Furthermore, literary scholars might also recall that the question “Why are manhole covers round?” was addressed in David Feldman’s book, When Do Fish Sleep?  According to Feldman, if we had triangular manhole covers the corners of said covers could possibly pop up when vehicles drove over them.

Round manhole covers also involve less time and skill.  There are no points or corners to line up when work is completed.  One need only drop them into place.  Just think how many man-minutes that saves.  After all, you know these guys get paid more than minimum wage and with OUR tax dollars too.

Sadly, NASA’s study on manhole covers is not yet complete.  Ed Norton was unavailable for comment.  Likewise, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari.  (Yes, it’s obscure TV reference time.  Explain the references and you might win a mention in a future edition of this series.  If you’re a single female–and in the area–you might also win a drink!)  At any rate, we hope you’re wiser now than you were before asking the question.

“Why are manhole covers round?” Now you know.

You ask the questions.  We provide the answers.

American Live Wire . . . Listen and be heard.

(Images courtesy of InfoTube and Favim)

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.