Sunday, October 27, 2013

Alligators in the Sewers

Author: Brittani Gladden

Photo from
New York City is known to be a fun and interesting place to be. It is known for its extravagant landscape with some of the biggest skyscrapers, as well as being an amazing shopping district. But among all the hustle and bustle of this incredible city, there is something mysterious lurking below these busy streets.
In the 1920’s and 30’s, New Yorkers vacationing to Florida would bring back baby alligators, for their children to keep as pets. However, when the alligators grew to uncomfortable sizes and no longer were considered cute, they were flushed down the toilet. When flushed, they ended up in the sewer system, where they would manage to live and breed. Since there is little to no sunlight in the sewer systems, the alligators are said to have become albino, where their hide would fade to white and their eyes would turn red. The story goes that their descendants are there still till this day.
According to a newspaper article from the “New York Times”, in 1935 youth boys assigned to throw snow in the sewers, found an eight-foot alligator lurking in the chilling waters below. The alligator was claimed to have swam from the Harlem River. Several years later according to Robert Daley’s 1959 book, “The World Beneath the City”, a colony of alligators had settled comfortably into the sewers of New York. In 1935 it was proposed to the Superintendent of Sewers, Teddy May that the alligators lived in the sewer. May refused to believe the reports at first. He says that he believed the guys down there when the eight-foot alligator was spotted, was drinking. When Teddy May finally decided go into the pipes to have a look, what he found was very shocking. An excerpt from Daley’s book showed what May said about the situation:
Alligators were serenely paddling around in his sewers. The beam of his own flashlight had spotlighted alligators whose length, on average, was about two feet. Some may have been longer. Avoiding the swift current of the trunk lines under major avenues, the beasts had wormed up the smaller pipes under less important neighborhoods, and there Teddy had found them.  (Daley)
After the sighting May supposedly had a change of heart. Teddy May was known to exaggerate his stories, so no one knows if he actually saw the alligators. 
Many YouTube videos show alligators living in the sewer systems. Although these sewer systems are not necessarily those in New York, it does show that alligators somehow can manage in the sewer. In a documentary video found on YouTube, researchers sent a robot into a sewer system in New York to hunt down the alligators. The robot never found an alligator in the sewer, but it did find enough vegetation for an alligator to survive on if needed. Another discovery pointed out was a salamander living in a New York sewer. Salamanders are much like alligators in the fact that they need warm environments to thrive. Since sewers are usually very cold especially during winter, and alligators require warm environments year-round, there could be no way they could survive in the sewers for long amounts of time. If they do not die from the cold, they would certainly die from the polluted water.
Since there is not much evidence that alligators live in the New York sewer systems, and you decide to go through a New York sewer system, you should not have too much to worry about, other than the occasional smell and bug.

Works Cited
“Are Alligators Living Under New York City” YouTube. Google. 4 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
Clark, Jerome. “Alligators Found in Uptown Sewer.” New York Times. 10 Feb. 1935. Print.
Emery, David. “Alligators in the Sewer.” About. The New York Times. Nd. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.
Indiviglio, Frank. “Fishing for Alligators.” Photograph. The Reptile Blog, Blogspot. 23 Oct. 2009. Web. 18 Oct.2013
Krystek, Lee. “Allegations of Alligators in the Sewers of New York.” Unmuseum. N.P. N.D. Web. 13 Oct. 2013.
Mikkelson, Barbara. “Gatored Community.” Snopes. Np. 12 July 2009. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.
“The World Beneath the City.” Sewergator. N.P. N.D. Web. 18 Oct. 2013

Links for further research:
Live Science
This website discusses the legend of alligators living in the sewers of New York City.

The New York Times
This website talks more about what Teddy May had to say about the findings of the alligators in the sewer system.

This website discusses more about the legend of Alligators living in the sewer systems of New York

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