What's the wild story behind a brand new bronze sculpture in Union Square Park?

If you plan on spending time in New York City in the coming weeks, be sure to swing through Midtown to check out a peculiar new attraction.

A statue, titled "N.Y.C. Legend," pays homage to one of the craziest urban legends to come out of Manhattan.

Beware of Alligators

Union Square Partnership announced the statue is meant to remind people that there was a time in history where people honestly believed there were gators living in the sewers of New York City.

Courtesy Union Square Partnership
Courtesy Union Square Partnership

The statue was crafted by Swedish artist Alexander Klingspor, who created "a life-sized alligator on the back of a manhole cover lid, drawing on the century-old myth of sewer alligators inhabiting the underbelly of New York City."

Originating a century ago, the legend suggests that New Yorkers once abandoned baby alligators—imported as pets from Louisiana and Florida—in the sewers when they became too large to manage. Over time, this story has evolved into tales of subterranean monsters, capturing the city’s imagination.

Inspired by the resilience of both alligators and New Yorkers, "NYC Legend" merges ancient mythological symbolism with modern urban folklore. The sculpture pays tribute to New York City’s enduring capacity to adapt and survive, a quality embodied by the alligator—a creature revered across many ancient cultures for its armor of scales and ability to regrow limbs.

It is illegal to own gators in New York State, which helped that myth spread like wildfire back in the day.

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It's believed the rumor first took off in the 1930s, following an article that was published in the New York Times claiming a group of boys in Harlem killed a gator crawling in the sewers.

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Photo Credit - Sam Greenwood /Getty Images

Klingspor seemed to enjoy creating such a wacky tribute, adding he's lived in the city for over a decade and felt it was only right to honor the city's most popular urban legend.

The statue will be on display until June 2024.

It also should be noted that just because it's illegal to keep alligators as pets doesn't mean city dwellers haven't tried smuggling them into Manhattan.

Earlier this year, one of these large reptiles was fished out of a lake in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

Authorities determined the gator was a pet and the Bronx Zoo tried to rehabilitate the creature, but it unfortunately died.

Mixed Reactions to New Statue

Chatting with my colleagues about the new statue, the majority of comments seem to be that of boredom and offense.

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Many felt that the city was better off honoring other sewer-dwelling legends that put NYC on the map -Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They knew karate, ate pizza, and kids loved them.

Characters from Gargoyles were also brought up, since they also sought refuge in the sewers.

Based on this limited feedback, I think people would be more jazzed to see the dinosaurs from the animated We're Back! movie on display.

What do you think? Is it time NYC honored its fictitious sewer dwellers - or should they have honored

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