Sidewalk Squares With "Valves" In The Middle?

I was traveling through Vermont this weekend and walked around the pedestrian mall in downtown Burlington. One of the buildings on the mall was the Ethan Allen Engine Company #4, as shown here. Note the concrete sidewalk across the front of the building, which extends around all four sides of the building. It's actually 2 -3 squares wide on the sides and back of the building.
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/EthanAllenEngineCompany4_zps04230033.jpg
Each sidewalk square is almost 5 feet on each side. As you can see from the images below, each square is inside of a metal frame and each square has some sort fitting in the center of it. The fitting has an outer circle and domed center with a hole in the middle. The top of the dome is level with the concrete surface. Only the sidewalk squares that surround the old firehouse have the frames and fittings. They butt up against the sidewalk squares that surround the City Hall next door and a sidewalk through City Hall Park behind it. Those sidewalk squares are a different size and have no frame or fitting. They appear to have been poured at a different time.
The fittings were filled with dirt and slush and it was too darn cold for me to start digging around to clean one out for a better look.
Here's the fitting, with my sneaker nearby for size comparison:
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-28189-1359317653551.jpg
Here's a couple of images of the metal frame around each section:
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-38794-1359317718938.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-3222-1359317823080.jpg
Anybody know the purpose of these frames and fittings? Could the fitting be for some sort of "mud jacking" to keep the square level? Could they just be a design feature?
Does that fact that these fittings are only found around the fire house have anything to do with it or was that just some old time contractor's way of building sidewalks?
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On 1/27/2013 4:33 PM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/EthanAllenEngineCompany4_zps04230033.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-28189-1359317653551.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-38794-1359317718938.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-3222-1359317823080.jpg
Perhaps the squares were prefabbed and the fitting was where a lifting eye was screwed in? Perhaps they were constructed so they can be lifted out for access to what may be underneath? ^_^
TDD
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That was one of the many things I considered.
As I mentioned, I only noticed these squares around the firehouse. If I don't get an answer here, I may do a little research about the history of downtown Burlington.
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wrote:

I've seen frames like that on very old sidewalks. I'm thinking they went back about 100 years or so as they were in old sections of Philadelphia where I lived the first half of my life. I think that type of layout was used in the early years either because it was needed, or just because it was fancy. From memory, it was in the "better" parts of the city that had them.
As for fittings, it was common to have access for water, gas, phone connections and shutoffs,but it was not one per square.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

This is just a side note, not related to the OP's question.
But, I spent the first 8 years of my life living in Philadelphia (Southwest, near 56th and Springfield Ave), and I remember every evening someone would come around with a small ladder and light the gas lights on the street. That was before we got electric street lights on our street which was a big deal. Also, my best friend's father delivered milk for Abbott's Dairy and I remember it being a big deal when he got a regular truck -- he had a horse drawn milk wagon before that. When I tell people that, they think I'm crazy, but that's what I remember. Any chance you experienced any of the same in the part of Phila where you lived?
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I was at the other end of the city near Frankford Ave and Cottman Ave. We had a gas light right in front of our house. The only thing different was we had Sealtest milk, but still a horse and wagon. Harbison was the other big dairy I recall. I remember getting a chunk of ice from the milkman too since that is what kept things cold.
On Thursday afternoon the huckster came by and on Friday, the Freihofer bread man came to get paid and had a tray of cakes and other goodies for sale. Bond was the other big bread company and you got either the morning Inquirer or afternoon Bulletin paper.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Thanks. I am glad to see that someone else has a lot of the same memories from Philadelphia that I have about the gas lights, the horse and wagon milkman, etc. We also had the bread man and the various hucksters that came up the street almost weekly.
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http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/EthanAllenEngineCompany4_zps04230033.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-28189-1359317653551.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-38794-1359317718938.jpg
http://i440.photobucket.com/albums/qq121/DerbyDad03/photobucket-3222-1359317823080.jpg
*To me the fittings look like some sort of spray head like an irrigation fitting. A thought occurred to me that maybe they were used to wash down the sidewalks to get rid of horse manure. Old fire trucks were horse drawn at one time.
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Possible, but when I imagine a sprinkler, I imagine water that sprays up and comes down. In other words, no "washing" action like you would get from a hose spraying sideways across the sidewalks.
Sprinklers would just get the manure all wet. Nasty!
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What is visible might be a cap to cover a hole so that high heels don't get caught up. Possibly a special security screw so that they can't be removed by unauthorised persons.
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I was just looking at pics friend posted on Facebook in Pittsburgh. Hmmmm, could it be something like this, not her pic.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bdmccray/6064198090 /
Greg
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It looks like a tool is meant to be inserted so the paviours can be raised. I suppose there must be pipes/cables beneath.
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