Alligator and Mr. Money Head.

Tribute to NYC's Sewer Alligator

Field review by the editors.

New York, New York

In 1935 an alligator crawled out of a manhole in Harlem and was promptly beaten to death (Feb. 9 is officially "Alligators in the Sewers Day" in Manhattan). The unfortunate gator remained unheralded in New York City until 2001, when artist Tom Otterness incorporated it into his "Life Underground" sculptures, which are scattered throughout the subway platforms at 8th Ave. and 14th St.

Otterness created a bronze, grinning gator with cartoon human hands, wearing a suit, lunging out of a manhole with an "NYC Sewer" cover. Its jaws are clamped onto a tiny, business-suited man with a moneybag for a head, who apparently wandered too close to the manhole and is being dragged underground. It would be alarming if it weren't so cute.

Otterness became obsessed with "Life Underground" and filled the nooks and crannies of the nearby subway platforms with 130 sculptures, four times what he was paid for, mostly of tiny people with moneybag heads. Although NYC police normally frown on photography in the subway, they are lenient with fans of Otterness's work. We had to wait while several groups of giggling tourists took snapshots of the alligator.

Tribute to NYC's Sewer Alligator

Address:
14th St., New York, NY
Directions:
In the subway station at the corner of 8th Ave. and 14th St. The alligator is on the L train (14th St.) platform, tucked under the staircase that leads down from the A train (8th Ave.) platform.
Admission:
Pay a subway fare.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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