Alligators in the Sewers
John T. Flaherty is chief of design in the New York City Bureau of Sewers. Flaherty is also the resident expert on the most durable urban legend in the history of cities. Flaherty, a good-humored man with an alligator cigarette lighter on his desk tells all, “There are no alligators in the New York City sewer system”.
Alligators are a small part of Flaherty’s business. There are 6,500 miles of sewer lines in New York City ranging from 6-inch pipe to monster sewers as big as a small band shell. Flaherty said, “A well-functioning sewer is a rather pleasant atmosphere-nice and cool in summertime, warm in the wintertime.” It seems just the place for an alligator, but it is not. The legend holds that travelers to Florida adopted baby alligators, tired of them and flushed them down the toilet, sending them to the city sewer system where they grew to immense size.
This urban legend is an example of creepy contaminations. The theme of Alligators in the Sewers is of animals contaminating the human environment; of animals lurking where they do not belong. Alligators in the Sewers is one of the best known American urban legends. Alligators in the Sewers legend has been celebrated in cartoons, comic books, children’s books, art, literature, and films such as Alligator (1980), directed by Lewis Teague. This film follows the attempts of a police officer and a herpetologist to stop a giant alligator that is killing humans in the sewers of Chicago. The film Alligator received praise from critics for its intentional satirizing. A possible nineteenth-century English prototype for the legend is found in Boyle’s book, Black Swine in the Sewers of Hampstead (1989).
This urban legend shows to what extent it struck imaginations, fascinated by the dark mysteries of the underworld. The legend of alligators in the sewer may be based on a real incident. On August 16, 1938, five alligators were caught in Huguenot Lake in New Rochelle. An article, “Alligator found in Uptown Sewer,” that appeared in the New York Times on February 10, 1935 is important to the genesis of the legend we know today. This sewer was on East 123rd Street in Manhattan. Although toilets are not mentioned in these early variants, they seem a feasible solution to people living in big cities who have few options for getting rid of unwanted materials.
It has long been a part of the folklore of American cities that there was once a fad for pet baby alligators and crocodiles. It is common for alligators to live in the mouth of large storm drains and venture out into the lake for food. Regardless of the different versions, the sewer system is still thought of as a hospitable place for unwanted pets.
Another urban variant states that the alligators in the sewer became blind and albino from lack of sunlight. Alligators becoming blind and albino in sewers corresponds to the physical development of other animals living for many years in dark caves (lizards, insects, fish). These sewer alligators grew to large size on their diet of rats.
Alligators in the Sewers urban legend has functions, such as anxiety justified-providing evidence to justify an anxiety that people find difficult to admit. Another function is allowing the tellers to know something, some special knowledge, that has been hidden from others. One function of the urban legend Alligators in the Sewers is that it relates feelings of unease about strange places. This urban legend helps us to deal with our fear of unknown places and possibly dangerous animals.
Frank Indiviglio is a herpetologist and said people believed that the sewers would be a good place for alligators to live. Indiviglio states the sewers are not for alligators-they are polluted, cold, and there is not enough sunlight. The temperature of an alligator’s blood follows the temperature of the environment.
Indiviglio explained that alligators cannot digest their own food when it is cold. Also, without the sun-and the Vitamin D their skin produces when in the sun-alligators could not utilize calcium and their bones would get soft. The pollution level in the NYC sewers would kill anything that lives in the water.
People have heard the urban legend Alligators in the Sewers in large part, due to Thomas Pynchon’s 1963 novel, V. Pynchon told us the alligators were big, blind, albino, and fed on rats and sewage. The final chapter of the alligators in the city’s sewers Fortean mystery has yet to be solved. Fortean pertains to any anomalous phenomena. Perhaps there may be a few of these toothy reptiles in New York City’s underground corridors, laying in wait for some unsuspecting persons.
In his book World Beneath the City Robert Daley reported on an interview with former New York City Sewers Commissioner Teddy May. May said his men had spotted two foot long alligators in the city’s sewers in 1935. Investigation confirmed the alligators. May himself found alligators about two feet in length in the city’s sewers. May suggested that the baby alligators were dumped down storm drains rather than flushed down the toilet. May said that his men eradicated the alligators by 1937. This is a clear case that has some truth to it, although that truth is a far cry from the Cadillac-sized gators of legend.
This piece is taken from Snopes.com. The claim is that a thriving colony of alligators lives deep within the bowels of the New York City sewers. Its status is false. Origins: Baby alligators brought back as pets from Florida end up being dumped into the sewer system when they outgrow their young stage. These discarded alligators grow to large size and terrorize any foolish enough to risk a visit to the sewers of New York City.
Related details are now included about Alligators in the Sewers. New York City sewer system is the birthplace of this urban legend . This urban legend has persisted since 1935. Loren Coleman, noted Cryptozoologist, states that this urban legend is true. Coleman says that the warm, dark, and wet environment of the New York City sewers are a suitable habitat for alligators.
Drs. Kent Vliet and Ken Krysto also think that alligators could live in the sewers. These herpetologists said that alligators are very resilient and adaptable reptiles. Alligators are opportunistic feeders and will eat about anything. Dr. Kent Vliet thinks that alligators could do well in dark environments. Food sources in New York City sewers for alligators include countless rats, cockroaches, worms, centipedes, sometimes even raccoons.
Alligators and crocodiles (Order Crocodylia) have a 200 million year evolutionary history, dating from the early Jurassic Period. These resilient, tough reptiles have survived several extinctions in earth history, including the Ice Ages. This evolutionary resilience of alligators speaks well of supporting the urban legend, Alligators in the Sewers. Others state that alligators could not live year-round in the sewers because its just not their natural habitat, like rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes.