There are few cities older or bigger in the United States than New York City. The hustle and bustle of everyday life fills it with energy and history. And with all that history, urban legends naturally begin to form. Whether you are a lifelong New Yorker or a one-time visitor, you may be well aware of these local myths, but do you know the truth behind them?
Alligators in the Sewers
New York City is home to some of the biggest and oldest underground sewers in the nation. And while there have been many myths about what lives down there, the number one theory is alligators. Blame it on a thoughtless family who flushed a pet alligator one day when it got too big. Now there are whole colonies of them underground!
But really, this isn’t true. The conditions are terrible for these cold-blooded creatures. But the fact that several loose alligators have been captured throughout NYC certainly doesn’t help dispel the myth either.
Liberty Island’s Buried Treasure
NYC’s Liberty Island isn’t just home to the Statue of Liberty, there’s gold buried there! Or so the legend goes. The pirate Captain William Kidd was hanged in 1701, but his death only sparked rumors that his buried treasure was located under the large flat rock that became home to the Statue of Liberty. An original venture to dig up the gold apparently ended in a confrontation with a mean, sword-waving ghost. Many people have tried to dig it up since then, but maybe the statue is in the way?
Dropping Deadly Pennies
Like alligators, this legend has spread to other cities over the years, but it originated in the Big Apple. Specifically, pennies dropped from the top of the 102-story Empire State building are said to reach such a fast speed that they can kill anyone unlucky enough to be on the sidewalk below.
But wait, physics proves this to be a (thankfully) false fear. The penny’s size and the presence of air resistance keep these coins from becoming deadly projectiles, no matter how far they fall.
The Hudson River’s Ghost Ships
Look out onto the Hudson River at dusk on a foggy day and you may just see a vessel floating by that is very much out of place. Myths tell of a tall-masted ship that was wrecked on New York’s rocky coast centuries ago, now it is doomed to patrol the Hudson forever. In fact, the earliest account says the ghost ship was first seen when NYC was still a small village.
This ghost ship may have blended in a little easier back in the day, but it would stick out like a sore thumb today, so sightings are in question. But if you see it, don’t go in the water!
Ice Skating Central Park Ghosts
Legend has it that two girls from the Victorian era continue to enjoy a casual skate around Central Park’s Wollman Rink. There have been multiple stories of visitors encountering these old timey young ladies, at first believing them to be like anyone else, then growing suspicious when they seem to not be touching the ice. The spectral girls passing through people like mist usually seal the deal.
Most say that the two enjoyed skating at the rink in the late 1800s and died close in time to one another. Wait a second … Wollman Rink wasn’t built until 1949 …
Have any other great NYC urban legends? The legal team at the law firm of Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro, Moses & Halperin, LLP would love to hear it!