Totally agree with matt its a backwater valve likely Normally closed and its probably for a bathroom group in the basement.
City sewer? If you are on sewer, I would say that's your back water valve.
I've never seen this, what state are you in? My first thought, before you opened the sheet metal cover, was this was your sump pump crock. But yes, it could also be as Matt30 says, basically a one way valve to prevent the city sewer (if ever overloaded) from back washing into your basement. It's nice, cost me $1,000.00 to put one in my line, plus the flood damage that triggered its necessity...and that was with me me doing all excavation and installation myself. Mine opens up for servicing, but mine is in the backyard.
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