No Longer an Urban Legend: The 1932 Alligator in the Sewer Tale Confirmed!

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“…Still, the occasional discovery of above-ground alligators in New York — on Staten Island, in Central Park or in Queens — refreshes the story. And of course, there was that one case in 1935. Salvatore Condoluci, the teenager who roped that alligator, is now 92. Though he has forgotten some of the details, he still remembers hearing the thrashing in the icy water beneath the manhole, first seeing the creature’s head, and using a rope to lasso and haul it to the surface…”

Loren Coleman brings news that the New York Times has managed to track down the person who told the story in 1932 about a 7 foot long alligator in the New York sewer.

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“…These stories were backed by scattered reports, mostly very old, of alligators living in sewer systems that appeared in papers around the country, including Atlanta, Dallas and Newark. The most widely cited of these was an article in The Times on Feb. 10, 1935, headlined “Alligator Found in Uptown Sewer.”

That article described several people — led by a teenager named Salvatore Condoluci — who had caught and ultimately killed a seven- to eight-foot-long alligator they discovered beneath an open manhole on 123rd Street near the Harlem River. However, the reptile was described as sickly, lacking “the robust vigor of a healthy, well-sunned alligator,” and it was assumed that its stay in the sewers had been brief….”

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