New York City and alligators share an interesting history, as sightings of the animals have become a big portion of the local folklore. That relationship is now on display in Union Square Park, courtesy of “NYC Legend,” a new work of public art by Swedish artist Alexander Klingspor.
Presented in collaboration with Mollbrinks Gallery, the bronze sculpture features a life-size alligator on the back of a manhole cover lid.
In case the on-the-nose monument is not clear enough: the piece draws on the century-old myth of sewer alligators living under us in New York, perhaps inhabiting the sewer system fund just below the cover lids we can step on all over town.
“Stories are the very backbone of human civilization giving shape to our shared consciousness through sculptures, paintings and architecture,” said Klingspor in an official statement about his work. “This piece is a testament to our timeless drive to find icons in nature, and to the bridge that myth builds between the ancient and modern that still echoes today.”
As legend has it, over one hundred years ago, New Yorkers would import alligators from Louisiana and Florida as pets and then abandon them in the sewers when they became too big to manage.
Whether that's actually true or not, we've witnessed enough local sightings of crocodiles in the past few years (who can forget the giant Godzilla that was caught in Prospect Park this past February?) to at least entertain the idea that we're living above a village of reptiles.
Anywho, the aptly named “NYC Legend” will be on display at Union Square's Triangle Park, right opposite 10 Union Square East, through June 2024.
And if you're interested in seeing even more of Klingspor's work, head uptown to the Thompson Central Park New York hotel, home to a new public exhibit focusing on the artist's creative process, specifically looking at how the alligator sculpture even came about. The show, mounted inside the hotel's new ground floor atrium, will remain there through November.