One of the most prolific and intense urban legends in American history is the persistent tale of the alligators in the New York City subway and sewer system. While most people have pushed these off as mere campfire tales, the truth may actually be that there have been alligators in the city’s underground. Despite sometimes faulty primary sources such as witness testimony and newspaper reports during a time of sensational headlines, the alligator stories have not all been derived from the same root story and may actually have their origins in truth.
The first recorded sighting of an alligator in New York came from 1932 when one was reportedly found sitting casually along the banks of the Bronx River. Three years later a few teens were shoveling snow into the sewer via a manhole when they ran across an alligator allegedly poking his nose up out of the hole. They managed to wrestle it out of the street and when it became hostile, they killed it.
The city seems content with the way things are. Their alligators are rarely ever seen and although considered to be mythical, the stories do seem to be based in fact and when it comes right down to it–it’s entirely plausible. Snapping turtles and other smaller reptiles are seen quite commonly in the water treatment facilities in the city.