Alligators aren’t native to New York, but stories of their subterranean lives date back over a century. The first published stories of this cycle came from Teddy May, New York’s Commissioner of Sewers, who claimed in newspaper interviews that the gators had been spotted by inspectors and later eradicated by flooding the tunnels. May’s eventual New York Times obituary even mentioned that he had “led a squad in clearing the sewers of a number of live alligators that, discarded in the sewers as tiny pets, had survived and grown large.” Despite May’s efforts to close the book on these stories, they only grew wilder. Many involved gargantuan albino alligators, since it was believed that the lack of sunlight would rob the animals of pigment. From Thomas Pynchon’s first novel, V, to the 1980 horror film Alligator, the creatures also found themselves increasingly cemented in popular culture, and all the while stories of sightings continued. As recently as 2010, a 2-foot gator was caught by the NYPD in a Queens sewer. With each sighting, its status is reinforced—a timeless icon underneath a changing city. ”

1930’s newspaper articles of alligator findings in NYC (The New York Daily News) and advertisement for alligators for sale (Popular Mechanics).