Alligators in the Sewer

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Fri Sep 6 19:42:47 UTC 2002

The Daily News of June 18, 2002 ran a profile of the typical NYC sewer alligator, in its series "Big Time Classic Characters".  (The article is on p. 55 and is by Joel Siegel.)  The series has been devoted to notable imaginary NYers.

The keystone of the article is a tale told by Teddy May, a veteran sewer worker, when he was in his 80s, to Robert Daley, who used the story in a book The World Beneath the City, publ. 1959.  May tells a graphic story of being shown an alligator by other sewer workers in 1935.  It then cites an alligator seen in the East River on May 31, 1937; another seen in an IRT station near Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, 2 days later; one killed by boys in Harlem (E123rd street) on February 9, 1935.  The article is topped by an illustration of the Dept. of Environmental Protection's emblematic mascot, an alligator wearing very cool shades climbing out of a manhole.

It doesn't have Barry's 1907 story either.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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