The Famous Urban Legend: Alligators in Sewer Pipes

Man hole cover and sewer pipes

Sewer pipes are hidden from most people’s view. People see the manhole covers, but few see inside the actual sewer pipes or tunnels. Assorted urban legends, heightened by colorful imaginations, lurk beneath our feet.

Rumors abound of homeless people living in the sewers, garnering the title of the mole people as featured in an episode of “Law & Order: SVU.” But it’s not the people who have gained legendary renown, but the animals and the beasts.

Alligator eyes

Alligators In Our Midst

The legend of alligators in the sewers is most commonly traced to New York City. Tales date back to the 1930s when word spread of tourists visiting Florida took as alligators as pets. When the alligators grew too large, they were dropped in the city’s sewer system. The legend, however, lacks substantiation. One alligator was spotted in nearby Westchester County, but not in the city itself.

The legend of sewer-dwelling alligators may be part of the inspiration for another tale of underground urban reptiles, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And it inspired the 1980 horror tale, Alligator.

Alligators in Sewers Urban Legend Infographic

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