Legend of NYC sewer alligators gets memorialized in new Manhattan sculpture

Legend of NYC sewer alligators gets memorialized in new Manhattan sculpture

Zoe Wells

New Yorkers can now pay tribute to one of the city’s most enduring urban legends with a life-size alligator sculpture lying on a manhole in Manhattan.

The Union Square Partnership unveiled a new sculpture called “N.Y.C Legend” on Oct. 17. It is a sculpture about the urban myth of alligators in New York City. The sculpture is composed of a life sized alligator lying on a manhole cover, according to a news release by USP. It is set to be on display until June 2024 in Union Square Park in Manhattan.


Swedish artist Alexander Klingspor worked with Mollbrinks Gallery to bring the old urban legend to life.

The sculpture pays homage to the century-long myth that baby alligators were abandoned in the sewers underground. Different variations of the story have evolved over time, but the sculpture is meant to symbolize New York City’s ability to survive anything – including man-eating myths, says Union Square Partnership.

The urban myth of New York alligators

Talk about alligators in the sewers has been going on for decades, with some tales dating back to the early 1900s, according to the New York Times.

In 1907, an article reported that a worker in New Jersey was bit by a small gator while cleaning a sewer.

From there, news reports of gators took flight. From manhunts to fictional books, the rumors about these scaly creatures lurking in the New York City sewer system never went away.

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According to New York Law, you can not own an alligator in New York City. Alligators are usually found in the southern part of the U.S according to Florida Wildlife Conservation. Alligators are cold-blooded animals, and the cold temperatures in New York would be too severe for them to survive properly.

Many reports have shown people owning baby gators and letting them loose when they become too big. However, authorities will press criminal charges if someone releases them outdoors.

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