Thursday, May 21, 2009

Alligators in New York City?

I recently spent a couple of days in New York City. Walking around all the manholes I remember stories years ago of Alligators in the sewers.

When you look at the awesome skyline of New York City it is easy to forget it is a lot like the tip of an iceberg. There is more underneath. Subway tunnels, steam pipes, fiber optic cables and maybe alligators.

Some people think these urban gators don't exist. They say it's a myth, a joke, fun imagination.

One story has it that back in the fifties when travel to Florida was increasing and there were no laws preventing it, baby alligators were the pet rage. Supposedly kids in New York City got them as presents. They were cute, but they also grew up and some say they were then flushed down the toilet.

New York's alligator sightings go back to 1932 when a dead three footer supposedly was found on the banks of the Bronx River, and a number of live ones were spotted nearby.

Several years later, during the summer of 1937, a barge captain reportedly hauled a big one out of the east river. A few days later, perhaps spurred on by the barge captain's publicity, a commuter allegedly bagged one at the Brooklyn Museum's subway station. That started it and New York's sewer system has had sightings straight through to 1966.

There has been no trace of the Alligator Urbanus since then. Maybe they moved to the sunbelt. We now have reports of alligators in the sewers of Atlanta, Georgia. The myth lives on.

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