We’ve only seen this in one place in New York City in all our explorations – in-ground garbage cans to hide household waste. We came across these on a walk around the Astoria and East Elmhurst waterfront area with photographer Nathan Kensinger, who was walking around a group of students from an architecture class that members of the Untapped Cities staff teaches at Columbia University.


The Dover “garbage receivers” are metal garbage cans – full size in fact – that go into the ground. They’re hot dipped in zinc to resist rust and prevent leakage, as reported by Volko Supply, a Garden City, Long Island-based home owner and contractor supply company that seems to have been the sole distributor of the Dover pails until they were discontinued. Underground garbage cans have a prime benefit of being more of a “raccoon and critter deterrent,” reports Volko, which claimed “never have a knocked over trash can again.” They can have an open bottom for drainage or be fitted with a shell can inside.


We found these at a Tudor-revival style apartment complex on 19th Road, across from the Lent-Riker Smith Homestead, the oldest private residence in New York City, built around 1655. The complex encompasses the address 7820 19th Road in East Elmhurst, Queens and is close to the entrance bridge to Rikers Island, an entrance to LaGuardia Airport for staff and supplies, and the man-made Ingraham’s Mountain.


Even though the Dover pails are discontinued, there appear to be similar alternatives. Volko has the Cambercans, also with a British inspired name but made in the United States. They claim it is the only all-metal trash-can system still available and made in the United States.


Here is the Lent Riker-Smith Homestead, across the setreet from the Dover garbage receivers:


Nearby, check out the man-made mountain “Ingraham’s Mountain.” and see photos of the stunning Steinway factory.

4 thoughts on “Quirky In-Ground Dover Garbage Cans in Astoria Hide Household Waste in NYC

  1. So they don’t leak but what does the zinc do to the soil? Garbage cans are not an eye sore, they are a fact of life. Keep the garbage cans above ground and plant beautiful flowers instead. How backwards and pretentious.

  2. Used to have these on 35th ave in Flushing (Btwn 149 & 147sts). Always thought they were so cool. They were filled in a few years back. Thought it was a shame but I bet the garbage men hated them.

    1. YES, I had these when I lived in Flushing in the late 1940’s on 72nd Ave near 150th St. in a new development of garden apartments.
      A neat idea, but YES, they must have been a huge hassle for the sanitation workers.
      And it was swampy there, so my recollection is that the cans didn’t always stay submerged in place.

Comments are closed.