A “masterpiece” sculpture has been unveiled in New York City paying homage to one of its most famous urban legends – alligators living in the sewers.
The public art installation features a life-sized alligator on the back of a manhole cover and draws inspiration from what organisers called a “century-old myth”.
Legend suggests New Yorkers once abandoned baby alligators when they became too large to keep as pets – with the story evolving into “tales of subterranean monsters” living in the “underbelly” of the city, officials said.
The bronze sculpture, called NYC Legend, was unveiled in Union Square Park by Swedish artist Alexander Klingspor and pays tribute to “New York City’s enduring capacity to adapt and survive” – a quality “embodied by the alligator”.
Community organisation Union Square Partnership said the work was “inspired by the resilience of both alligators and New Yorkers” and the “magnificent” sculpture merges ancient mythological symbolism with modern urban folklore.
Mr Klingspor said: “Stories are the very backbone of human civilisation giving shape to our shared consciousness through sculptures, paintings, and architecture.
“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.”
Anthony Perez, of New York City Parks, said: “This sculpture is a beautiful representation of our enduring resilience as New Yorkers, and embodies one of the most famous urban legends about our city.
“Public art installations like this are one of the many ways we use our public parks to celebrate the stories and spirit that make our city so unique.
“I’m so excited to see this sculpture take its place in iconic Union Square Park, where I’m sure it will surprise and delight both New Yorkers and visitors.”
The sculpture in one of Manhattan’s most popular destinations will be on display for eight months until June 2024.
Joseph Douek, a member of the NYC Planning Commission, said: “We take great pride in showcasing Klingspor’s masterpiece and are hopeful for its permanent installation following the exhibition period.”