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The Future of Kirkwood & Webster Is Looking Down

November 03, 2017
Hold on to your Frisco Bell, because I have an idea for boosting friendly competition not to mention tourism in the greater Webster-Kirkwood area.

This idea came to me last week when I was interviewing one of the world's foremost authorities on manhole covers.

You may think I am exaggerating, but I'm not. This sewer lid expert her name is Emma is too humble to call herself one of the world's leading authorities. But it is true. Emma is also an artist. She lives in Berlin. She found her muse in her municipal wastewater system.

More importantly, she has spent the past decade visiting manhole covers in more than a dozen major European cities. We're talking Paris, Naples and Athens.

Lest you think these sewer lids are cover for some sort of travel tax deduction scam, she has also created prints of more than 1,000 of her favorites, which she transfers to T-shirts and tote bags that she sells to a growing community of manhole cover enthusiasts.

"These covers are a little part of a community's identity," Emma told me. "Some are ornamental or have logos or other design elements that distinguish them. They can be quite beautiful."

What does all this have to do with the greater Webster-Kirkwood area, you ask?

Well, I don't know if you've looked at our sewer lids lately. But I have. And let's just say: I wouldn't feel comfortable inviting Emma here to see them any time soon. I mean, they're okay.

Many have little diamonds on them, but they're nothing like Miami's manhole covers, for example, which are emblazoned with palm trees. I am not being critical of the original designers. They did their best.

The good news is, WE CAN DO BETTER! So here's my idea: Let's start a friendly sewer lid art competition between the Webster and Kirkwood artist communities. Webster can start on Lockwood, and Kirkwood on Adams. We can meet the Glendale and Oakland artists in the middle.

One lid might be etched with the face of Webster native Phyllis Diller. Another can depict Kirkwood's iconic train station. It can be like the St. Louis Walk of Fame in University City. Only more fun. Before you know it, the Webster-Kirkwood area will be the Manhole Cover Capital of the U.S. This could be the start of the U.S. sewer lid tourism movement.

In case you didn't know, sewer lid tourism is already booming elsewhere. You should see the manhole covers in Japan, for instance. Seriously. Google "Japan manhole covers."

You'll find everything from diesel locomotives to space aliens, all in living color. They're so popular that tourists can purchase Manhole Cards that contain photos and GPS coordinates of the most popular ones so they can track them down and snap selfies with them.

In conclusion, I am not kidding.

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