City Hall Revealed

May 3, 2009

The Nest

The Nest

The City Hall subway station was officially closed and abandoned on December 31, 1945. Tours were still offered until quite recently, and now the station has fallen into complete disrepair. Still, the occasional MTA Inspection worker is sent to investigate its conditions. Such is the character of my next interview and thus my next descent into the underground.

City Hall is close to the Canal Street/Chinatown area, and so it seemed a logical location for my next investigation. The street entrances to the station are now sealed, so we entered through a sewer shaft that actually led us to the station. As with the previous descent, I brought two crewmembers with me and left the rest inside the station, and above ground, to monitor our progress and standing.

Diving gear was unnecessary for this attempt because we were going to walk through the abandoned subway line. We did, however, wear long rubber suits, helmets, and the same monitoring and recording devices as before.

This line was not as warm as the sewers had been, but the air was still stagnant and smelled of the refuse floating immediately below and beside the old tracks. We trudged along in the dim light until we saw a large crack in the wall, from which rats were openly and unabashedly scurrying. We decided to go in.Clutching to the wall for guidance, we eventually were led into a larger corridor that seemed to be an abandoned construction site. Water was everywhere, and it floated above our ankles. I later found out that this was an integral portion of the station’s history:

“City Hall Station opened along with the rest of the Interborough’s first subway line on October 27, 1904. It was immediately clear that expansion of the subway system would be necessary and additional lines were built. But ever-increasing ridership eventually required the Interborough’s five-car local stations to be lengthened to accommodate longer trains, and so the IRT underwent an extensive program of station lengthening in the 1940s and early 1950s.

City Hall, due to its architecture and its being situated on a tight curve, was deemed impractical for lengthening. The new longer trains had center doors on each car, and at City Hall’s tight curve, it was dangerous to open them. It was decided to abandon the station in favor of the nearby Brooklyn Bridge station…” (

Clearly an attempt had been made to expand the station into the surrounding strata. After this had been deemed impossible the site was abandoned altogether, and is now almost completely forgotten by its human progenitors. Because there are only small cracks for air to flow, this site was quite warmer and gave me a distinct feeling of suffocation. Despite this, the plants and animals had not forgotten, nor had they hesitated to take advantage of such a fortuitous situation. They had formed their homes in the rubble, and had appreciated its protected nature.  They flourished in this environment. If we were to find an alligator nest or even an alligator themselves, this would have been an ideal location.

And so we did. Tucked in a small corner of the rock lay an alligator’s nest devoid of eggs. Had this been the former home of the egg we found in the sewer? We took some samples and, after searching for a bit more and finding nothing, ascended back to the surface.

I was becoming restless. How could these alligators evade detection so well? Obviously, there were alligators living below the streets of New York. I had only found bare traces of this, though, and was eager to find the alligators themselves. Perhaps the means to avoid detection had been one of their urban adaptations?

The East River... an alligator throughway?

The East River... an alligator throughway?

My second interview with Rusty proved fruitful. His testimony confirmed my suspicions—there was and is several generations of gater lurking in the waters of the metropolis. What disturbs me is the water quality of the East River, especially at the latter half of the 19th century. It is quite polluted, and is actually dangerous to swim in, though now in 2009 it is much cleaner than ever before. What type of adaptations must these alligators have to be able to survive in such a habitat?

The alligator that injured Chester may still be alive, but Chester has long since passed. I could not investigate his tail to see if the bite marks are consistent with an alligator’s jaw and teeth. My supposition is that it must have been a relatively small alligator; a larger creature would have devoured Chester. Perhaps a more appropriate term is maim. You see, alligators perform what is known as a “death roll” on order to eat their prey. They tightly grip the prey by its body and use their powerful tails to swing that body around until bits of flesh are removed. Only a relatively small gator, even a baby, would have been able to remove a cat’s tail and leave the rest unharmed. The water in that area though moves quite rapidly, at about a speed of four knots. The alligator must be small but an incredibly strong swimmer.

The East River, where Rusty believes the alligator to have lived, connects Upper New York Bay on the south to Long Island Sound on the north. These gators would have a range of habitat then, from the boroughs of the city to Long Island. I decided that Manhattan would be the best center for this type of habitat for several reasons. Namely, the island is actually centrally located, has an intricate network of underground systems including the sewer, the subway, and the tunnels to and from the city that are tightly woven and interconnected, and most importantly, Manhattan is perhaps the only location where such a peripheral population could have gone unnoticed for almost a century.

I decided not to physically investigate the East River. It is too dangerous for swimmers to enter its waters (including scuba divers) because of the levels of toxicity and because of the speedy current. As an alternative, my crew prepared to enter the urban subterranean depths in search of the sewergater.

First Dive

April 28, 2009



Clearly Ms. Coventry and her lawyer Louis had seen something unusual—or had they? The dog could have simply gotten caught in some underwater muck and drowned. Typically, alligators live in the south eastern portion of the United States, in the lagoons and swamps. They are usually between 6 and 14 feet. Crocodiles, on the other hand, are not native to the US. It is for this reason that I knew we were searching for an alligator. I still had many questions though: was this one isolated case? Or was there a colony of alligators just below the city’s surface? Smaller alligators tend to live in large groups. Unfortunately, neither Ms. Coventry nor her lawyer were able to see how large the animal was because it was partly submerged.

The Diving Saucer

The Diving Saucer

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, located between 86th and 96th streets, can certainly sustain a population of large reptiles. According to Central Park’s official website, the reservoir, “covers a full one eight of the park’s surface. The 106-acre water body is 40 feet deep and holds over a billion gallons of water,” ( Until 1991, the reservoir was an integral portion of the fresh water supply in the city. Since then though, it has been largely converted into an aesthetic attraction and this has allowed the park’s wildlife to live there in peace. Though not able to utilize Calypso, my ship, in the reservoir, I decided to investigate this incident with my crew using the Diving Saucer. The Saucer can dive as far as 350 meters (equal to approximately 1,150 feet) and can stay underwater for up to five hours ( This tool would be perfectly suited to an exploration of the vast reservoir.

Taking a member of my crew with me, the Diving Saucer was transported to New York and prepared for the dive ahead. Alligators are nocturnal, and so I thought that we would descend in the manner of an alligator, at night, in order to catch a glimpse. When we finally descended beneath the dark, still waters of the reservoir, I kept the Diving Saucer’s lights dimmed. I did not want to frighten any creatures, especially this alligator. We viewed the magnificent wildlife that calls the reservoir their home, but still we did not see any sign of the alligator.

As it does every morning, the sun began to rise at about 5:30. My crew members and I had scanned the waters from above and below the surface, but we had not seen an alligator or, for that matter, any unusual or large creature. Though beautiful and majestic, the small fish and birds native to the reservoir were not what we had come in search for. I felt disappointed, but I was not discouraged. We had set out two weeks after the incident relayed by Ms. Coventry. By now, the alligator could have easily wandered over land to another body of water in the park, or could have entered one of the many abandoned sewer tunnels leading into the heart of the city.

I needed more interviews, more information. The reports of a “sewergator” were numerous, but many dated back many, many years. The alligator of the 1935 reports would not be alive today. If the reports have any truth to them, that alligator(s) would have left descendants; Pollock’s could have been one of those descendants. In the wild, alligators can live from 35 to 50 years and they reach sexual maturity at about 10 to 12 years of age. That means that there is a possibility that seven generations of gators have been born since the original sewergater, five of which could still be swimming in the depths, and every generation increasingly adapted to their adopted environment. I absolutely had to find this hidden habitat.

Residence: Park Avenue and 88th Street, New York, NY (Upper East Side)

Incident Location: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in Central Park

Age: 86

Gender: Female

Injury or Fatality: Yes

Other Witnesses: Yes – Attorney Louis Goldberg


Captain Cousteau: Hello Constance!  Thank you for meeting with me.  Please recount your sewergator encounter with as much detail as possible…

Constance Coventry: I’m a social person. I’m often referred to as a socialite or Grande Dame of New York philanthropy. While these I enjoy these titles, I much prefer my quiet mornings in Central Park and spending time with my dog, Pollock, a descendant of Peggy Guggenheim’s brood of Lhasa Apsos (hence the name Pollock, for Jackson Pollock, to whom Peggy gave his first four one-man shows). Like me, Peggy’s most successful relationships were with animals and works of art. I rarely see my only living relative, my son William, and so my lawyer, Louis Goldberg, has assumed my guardianship.

I was a longtime fixture on the New York social scene after inheriting my husband’s real estate fortune. These days, I rarely attend afternoon lunches or evening parties, preferring to wake up early, before the pads of my feet begin to hurt and prevent me from walking Pollock. My son prefers to keep me shut up in my apartment, saying I should not walk Pollock any longer. But Louis understands and often joins us as we tour 88th Street on our way to 5th Avenue.

I refuse to use a cane, although my doctor recommends it. Because my walks are now the highlight of my day I often wake up early, around 6 AM, to bathe and wash my hair. My mother always said that it was unnecessary to shampoo your hair every day, but I like it to look fresh. I often comb my chin-length hair off my face and, once dry, use a curling iron to add waves around my face. My hair is thinner now and it is difficult to tease out volume. I powder my face and rub on some color—but not too much! I carefully apply a dark red lipstick in a way that defines both lips, clearly separating them from the rest of my face. My eyebrows are always becoming lighter, so I pencil on some definition, an earthy brown. I still wear dresses and thick nude tights. I wear a sturdy black leather shoe with a flat sole. I often have difficulty zipping the back of my dress and bending over to tie my shoes. The laces slip through my fingers like wet spaghetti and my knuckles throb as I work my way through tying a bow.

I am usually thirty minutes late for my appointment with Louis, but he doesn’t mind. By the time I slip on Pollock’s collar and board the elevator to the ground floor, Louis has comfortably tucked himself away in a large leather lounge chair in the first floor lobby and dozed off. When the elevator doors open I drop Pollock’s leash and he runs to Louis to give him a good morning greeting. Louis stands immediately, but as though in the middle of a dream, wiping the sleep from his eyes, and begins pulling biscuits from his pockets for Pollock to enjoy. Pollock takes dainty nibbles, refusing to lick the smaller crumbs from the lobby carpet. After we leave, the doorman will remove a handheld vacuum from behind his desk sweep up any remaining biscuit.

Louis offers his arm as we step out of the building and under the big green awning that stretches across the sidewalk to the street. I hand him Pollock’s leash as I dig through my purse for sunglasses. We glide softly down the pavement, stopping only as a precaution when we meet an unusually large crack in the sidewalk. There are now three of these crevices on our stretch of 88th Street. I walk cautiously now, much less assured of my footing than in the past. Once I would prance down the sidewalk click-click-clicking in patent leather pumps. That day has passed.

Louis asks me about the weather and I respond that it’s much too hot. He agrees.

We pass Peggy’s museum on our way to the reservoir and I stop to balk at what a truly ugly structure it is. “Shame on you, Mr. Wright,” I mumble under my breath. Pollock barks loudly at the traffic on 5th Avenue and a taxi driver beeps in response. We wait for the light to change and then Louis steps off the curb and offers me both hands as I step into the street. Pollock can already smell the dogs in the Park. He tugs on his leash and nearly pulls me over. Louis picks him up and carries him safely to the other sidewalk. Pollock’s ears perk up as we get closer to the park’s entrance and he whines softly between pants. This air is thick and muggy, uncomfortable for a dog with such long hair. His tiny pink tongue hangs from his jaw as he struggles to catch his breath. I too am walking more slowly now as I putter forward through the humidity. Pollock breathes harder as his excitement grows. We walk in the Park, up a rise in the path, over the crest and down an incline toward the reservoir track. Young men and women in shorts and tight shirts run past at lightning speed. Pollock wishes he could join them. Louis holds the dog tightly to prevent him from slipping away.

The placid water perfectly reflects the tall buildings running along the Park’s western edge, creating a carbon-copy skyline in the reservoir. I wait until a group of runners have passed, then step onto the gravel path and let go of Louis’s arm. He continues to struggle with Pollock, who has become fussy and wants to be let down. I cross the path and reach out for the cast-iron fence and pull myself closer to the water. Turtles are sunning themselves on the rocks below and a pair of Canadian geese swim by. The sky is blue and the water is blue and the sun is bright and I am still happy to be alive.

Louis has taken the dog off the path to do his business. He curbs Pollock against a cement light post, then removes a plastic bag from his pocket to dispose of the waste. As Louis marches Pollock to the nearest trash receptacle, I begin walking north toward the pump house. I like to see both skylines before I return home. By walking north, then west around the track, I’ll soon be able to see my building.

The gravel is softer than pavement, and I enjoy rubbing the soles of my shoes on the uneven pebbles. I hold onto the iron fence just as I held onto Louis and begin walking more freely. The water smells fresh, and wet, and cool and I dream of striping naked and diving in. I dream of paddling deeper and deeper in my murky little sea, diving toward the bottom, but never finding it.

Pollock has gotten loose and is running zigzags around Louis. The man waves his arms after the dog. Pollock continues dodging on and off the track. The dog wiggles through the iron gate. Stepping down the rocky incline toward the water, Louis becomes frustrated and begins shouting at the dog, “Stop it! Stay still! Come here!” Unable to mount the gate due to his rotund stomach, Louis squats and reaches through the fence toward the dog. The dog turns his head to the side. His paws are in the water. He doesn’t understand Louis’s demands. Louis abruptly changes tactics. He begins to toss small rocks in the water behind Pollock hoping to move the dog away from the reservoir. Pollock thinks it is a game. He turns toward the water and readies himself to pounce toward the next rock as if it were a rubber ball. I have a clear view of this standoff and laugh at Louis’s attempts to subdue the rowdy dog.

Suddenly a large brown log to Pollock’s left springs to life and snaps up the dog. Pollock is surprised and lets out a muffled yelp before being drug into the water. Louis stands erect and steps away from the water’s edge. He realizes, as I do, that the moving log is not a log at all. Louis struggles to steady himself, not knowing whether to run away or assist Pollock. Louis looks at the dissipating ripples spreading over the surface of the water. Then he looks at me. I also look for Pollock, then spot Louis’s beet-red face. The dog is gone.

Forgetting Louis, I replay the incident in my head. There were no teeth. No biting or chomping. No blood or scales. It wasn’t even green. The beast simply secured Pollock in his jaw and lowered him into the water. His movement was swift and his jaw clamped tightly, but the encounter was not violent. The creature moved into the water in a zig-zag pattern, uncertain at first where to enjoy his tasty snack. The beast was dark and fluid and slipped away from the shallows. Only after sinking into deeper water would he swallow the dog whole.

I walked slowly to Louis, who held his head in his hands. Keeping an eye on the water I waited for Pollock to re-emerge, but the dog never came back up.

“Should we call the police?” Louis asked.

“No,” I responded. “But let’s wait a little while longer.”

Fifteen minutes passed, then thirty, and sweat ran down Louis’s face as he stared blankly as the water’s edge. He handed me Pollock’s leash, which had slipped off the dog during the scuffle. “What am I supposed to do with this?” I asked. Louis shrugged and tossed the leash into the water where it sunk slowly in search of poor Pollock. Louis was exasperated and exhausted.

I took to the unusual task of ushering him home, down the street I’d never need to walk again. Why would an old woman go to the park without a dog to walk? I said goodbye to 88th street as we turned onto Park Avenue, and then entered the lobby making note of the impeccably clean carpet.


Photos of Incident Location:











Photo of Sewergator Victim: Pollock Coventry


Photo of Sewergator: None

The Alligator People _1959_

Possible images of Alligator/People Hybrids from the 1959 film “The Alligator People.”



Alligator People

Alligator People - 2





Film Trailer:

We have discussed the possibility of albino mutant alligators.  Could the mutation be a product of genetic defect or determined by environmental factors such as less exposure to sunlight?  Let’s look to some fictional sewer mutants for reference.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (aka TMNT or simply Ninja Turtles, and previously known in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Ireland and Scandinavia as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles) are a fictional team of four mutant turtles, who were trained by an anthropomorphic, talking rat sensei in the art of Ninjitsu.  From their home in the storm sewers of New York, they battle petty criminals, evil megalomaniacs, and alien invaders, all while remaining isolated from society at large.  The characters initially appeared in comic books before being licensed for toys, cartoons and film adaptations.  During the peak of its popularity in the late 1980s through early 1990s, the franchise gained considerable worldwide success and fame.


Leonardo — The courageous leader and devoted student of martial arts, Leonardo wears a blue mask and wields two katanas. He is the eldest of the four and the most skilled fighter of the turtles. “Leo” was named after the Italian polymath, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, Leonardo Da Vinci.

Donatello — The brilliant scientist, inventor, engineer, and technological genius, Donatello wears a purple mask and wields the bō staff. “Don” is perhaps the least violent Turtle, preferring to use his intellect to solve conflicts. He is named after the sculptor Donatello.

Raphael — The team’s bad boy, Raphael wears a red mask and wields a pair of sai. He has an aggressive nature and seldom hesitates to throw the first punch. He is an intense fighter. His personality can be alternately fierce and sarcastic, and often times delivers deadpan humor. Still, he is intensely loyal to his brothers and sensei. “Raph” is good friends with Casey Jones. He is named after the Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, Raphael Sanzio.

Michelangelo — Easy-going free-spirited, Michelangelo wears an orange mask and wields nunchaku. “Mikey” provides much of the comic relief. While he loves to relax, this Turtle also has an adventurous and creative side. He is the youngest of the four. He is named after Michelangelo Buonarroti. His name was originally misspelled “Michaelangelo” by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman – at the time they did not own a computer with a spellchecker.

Master Splinter — The Turtles’ sensei and adoptive father, Splinter is a mutant rat who learned the ways of ninjutsu from his owner and master, Hamato Yoshi. In the 1987 TV series, Splinter was Hamato Yoshi mutated into a rat instead of being just Yoshi’s pet.

Shredder — A villainous ninjutsu master called Oroku Saki. In every incarnation of the TMNT franchise, he has been the archenemy of Splinter and the Turtles. Shredder prefers to use his armor instead of weapons. He is also the leader of the Foot Clan.

April O’Neil — A former lab assistant to the mad scientist Baxter Stockman, April is the plucky human companion of the Turtles. April first met up with the Turtles when they saved her from Baxter’s Mouser robots. She embarks on many of the Turtles’ adventures and aids them by doing the work in public that the Turtles can’t. In the 1987 TV series, and subsequent three films, April was a television news reporter.

Casey Jones — A vigilante who has become one of the Turtles’ closest allies as well as a love interest to April. Casey first met up with the Turtles after having a fight with Raphael. Casey fights crime with an assortment of sporting goods (baseball bats, golf clubs, hockey sticks, cricket bat etc.) while wearing a hockey mask to protect his identity.

The “origin of the TMNT” refers to a series of events present in most TMNT fictional universes, which ultimately culminate in the mutations of Splinter and the Ninja Turtles. Most versions are similar to outline of Splinter’s tale in the first issue of the Mirage comics. Hamato Yoshi is slain by Oroku Saki and Splinter takes refuge in the sewers, where he discovers four baby turtles have been dropped by a young boy. One day Splinter returns to find the turtles crawling in a strange ooze, and their mutations into humanoid creatures begins.

Though most versions of the origin include these similar elements, many differences are present. Some delve deeper into the past, some have added minute details, and some have even altered the origins of the ooze or the identities of the characters. The most well known versions are those presented in the 1990 film and the 1987 cartoon series, although they are wholly irreconcilable with one another.

The Mirage version of the origin story lays out what would become the most common elements among the origin stories. It is recounted to the Turtles after their first successful battle. Vol. 1 #1

Decades ago in Japan, there existed a ninja clan known as the Foot. Among the Foot’s ranks was Hamato Yoshi, Splinter’s original owner. From his cage, Splinter enjoyed mimicking Yoshi’s movements, forming the basis for his knowledge of ninjustsu. Hamato Yoshi often clashed with a fellow member of the clan, Oroku Nagi, over the love of a woman named Tang Shen. When it became clear that Tang Shen loved only Yoshi, Nagi arrived at her home and savagely beat her. She was saved by Yoshi, who in a moment of rage, killed Nagi with his bare hands.

Knowing that the Foot Clan would not accept the murder of another member, Yoshi, Tang Shen and Splinter fled to New York City, where he founded a small martial arts school. Meanwhile, the Foot continued to train Nagi’s younger brother, Oroku Saki. Fueled by a thirst for vengeance, Saki eventually became a high ranking member of the organization, and was tasked with leading a branch of the Foot in New York. Once there, Saki adopted the mantel of the Shredder and lead the clan to the highest ranks of the underworld, specializing in burglary, espionage, and assasination. Yet the entire time, Saki sought the opportunity to avenge his brother by slaying Hamato Yoshi.

One night Yoshi returned home to find his appartment ransacked, Tang Shen lying dead on the floor. Yoshi then saw the Shredder, who, revealing his identity as Oroku Saki, promptly killed Yoshi with his blades. Alone and heartbroken, Splinter escaped into the sewers, rummaging for food to survive.

In 1969, a young boy was carrying four baby turtles home from the pet shop. A blind man was crossing the road when a truck labeled “T.C.R.I.” almost ran him down. A young man behind the boy with the Turtles ran out to save the blind man, bumping the boy with the turtles and knocking the jar from his hands. The jar broke when it landed in the gutter, and the Turtles were washed down a sewer drainage grate. As the truck swerved, the back doors flew open. A container of green radioactive goo fell out and was subsequently washed down the drain with the baby turtles. The turtles landed safely, until the jar of goo fell beside them, coating them with its contents.

Moments later, Splinter came across the babies, gathering them into a can. He didn’t realize he was coating himself with the green goo as he gathered them up. In very little time, Splinter and the turtles evolved and mutated into anthropomorphic beings with intelligence and emotion rivaling that of a human. Their mutation near completion, and educated, the rat named the Turtles after Renaissance artists – Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael. For the next fifteen years, Splinter raised and instructed the young turtles, his sons, in the martial arts in order avenge his master.

It is later revealed that the ooze was created by a group of benevolent aliens known as Utroms.

This origin is shared with the Image continuity and the Palladium source books.

The 1987 series deviates noticably from the Mirage origin, completely removing Tang Shen and Oroku Nagi, and actually turning Hamato Yoshi into Splinter. In the series, Splinter relates his origin not to the Turtles, but to reporter April O’Neil. Turtle Tracks

As in all versions, Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki were members of the Foot Clan in 1960s Japan. Here the Foot Clan is portrayed as a peaceful organization, Yoshi himself a quiet man who loved Renaissance art. He had a long standing rivalry with Oroku Saki, who always planned to overthrow Yoshi as leader of the clan. When a master sensei arrived, Saki planted a dagger in Yoshi’s dogi (fighting outfit), framing him in an assassination attempt. Dishonored, Yoshi was excommunicated by the Foot and fled to New York, where he lived homeless in the sewers.

In Japan, Saki turned the Foot into an army of crime, using their ninja skills for personal gain.

Far later in New York, a boy dropped a fishbowl of baby turtles down a storm drain. Yoshi found them and raised them as pets. One day he discovered the turtles crawling in a broken canister of glowing, purple ooze, and proceeded to clean them. Yoshi later realized that the ooze was a powerful mutagen, capable of turning any lifeform into the animal it last touched. As the turtles had last touched Yoshi, they became humanoid. Yoshi, however, had most recently been in contact with the rats, and thus became a half-man, half-rat mutant.
Then again, it ain’t easy being purple either…

As ever, Yoshi named his sons after Renaissance artists and taught them ninjustsu, although in the cartoon it was for protection rather than vengeance. Seeing his capacity to break boards, the Turtles began to call their master Splinter, a name which he willingly adopted.

The alterations in this origin story were likely due censorship placed on death within children’s cartoons. It also served to introduce the gimmick of the cartoon’s mutagen; its property to merge animal and human DNA was unique to the series and was used extensively in the origin stories for various mutants in the toyline. Whereas most versions depict the mutagen as a product of T.C.R.I., here it is created by Krang, who allowed Saki to dump it in the sewers in hopes of killing Hamato Yoshi.

This origin is shared with the comic series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, where it is again recounted to April.


Leatherhead is a 12’4″ or 7′ mutant alligator or crocodile (depending on which version). He has appeared in all TMNT incarnations except for the movies and the live action series.

He first appeared in Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6. Originally Leatherhead was nothing more than an infant alligator which had somehow found its way into the sewers. While in the sewers, Leatherhead was found by a group of TCRI Utroms who decided to bring the creature to their headquarters. During his stay with the Utroms, Leatherhead was exposed to Mutagen which caused him to mutate into a humanoid and intelligent being.

Living with the Utroms, Leatherhead ended up being separated from his “family” when the TCRI building self-destructed. The now homeless Leatherhead was forced to live in the sewers where he was continually attacked by a big-game hunter called Mr. Marlin. During one attack by the hunter, Leatherhead met the Turtles. Aiding Leatherhead in defeating the hunter, the Turtles decided to allow Leatherhead to live in their old home.

Eventually four Foot Clan ninjas encountered an eye-patch-wearing Leatherhead in the sewers. Fearing that Leatherhead would kill them, the ninjas tried to get on Leatherhead’s good side by promising to aid him in creating his Transmat Device. Accepting the help, Leatherhead and the ninjas set to work creating the Transmat, only to be interrupted by the Turtles. After a brief skirmish, the Turtles learned that the Foot ninjas were actually helping Leatherhead. Embarrassed by the incident the Turtles decided to aid the mutant alligator. Eventually the Transmat Device was complete, Leatherhead could finally reach the Utrom Homeworld. Unfortunately instead of teleporting Leatherhead, the device simply blew up in his face. This failure was too much for Leatherhead to handle and in a fit of rage, Leatherhead attacked his Foot assistants and vowed revenge on the Turtles, whom he blamed for wrecking his attempt to get “home.”

Leatherhead later resurfaced in Volume 4. He makes an appearance at Master Splinter’s funeral. He is then seen wrestling a mutated Raphael in the sewers before swimming off. It is unknown what his current relationship with the Turtles is, but Raphael’s comment that he hopes he didn’t hurt Leatherhead would make it seem as if they’re at least on good terms.

He has also appeared in two issues of Tales of the TMNT Volume 2. In issue eight, a mentally unstable and delusional Leatherhead is discovered by Raphael to be building another Transmat Device. Leatherhead seems to harbor an insane grudge against Donatello, and nearly kills Raphael when he mistakes him for Donatello. Once the Transmat Device was finished, it suddenly kicked into operation and causes three Utroms to appear; these Utroms blast Leatherhead with a ray gun, and take him away, destroying the Transmat Device as they leave.

In issue twenty-three, the Turtles are recruited by the Utroms to save Leatherhead from a renegade group of Utrom radicals called “The Illuminated,” the same ones who took him away in issue eight, in attempts to clone him into an army of mutants to aid in their world “cleansing” agenda. It is revealed that the Illuminated where secretly drugging Leatherhead, which caused him to subconsciously to build the second Transmat Device he was working on in issue eight, then wake up and remember little. It also caused his missing eye to heal and gave him a massive increase in size. The Turtles rescue Leatherhead, defeated the clones, and aided in the destruction of the Illuminated. Leatherhead returns to Earth with the turtles rather than going back to the Utrom home world. These events all take place between Volumes 2 and 4 of the Mirage series.

It is interesting to note that in the past, at several comic conventions, Leatherhead creator Ryan Brown has said he initially intended to kill the character off at the end of Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1, #6 by having the gator-man tumble into the underground gorge with the evil big game hunter but Turtle’s creator Peter Laird nixed the idea opting to have Leatherhead survive and return to the sewers with the Turtles.

Brown returns to plot his creation after 19 years in the September 2007 issue of Tales of the TMNT. Out for a swim, Leatherhead encounters a group of aliens called Sigmurethites and attacks them. The alligator-man’s Utrom guardian Dr. X also appears in this issue in a female scientist’s exoskeleton.


Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1, #6 – Leatherhead
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1, #45 – Leatherhead, Too
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 4, #11
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 4, #17
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #8 – Virus
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #23 – Attack of the Replicants
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #38 – Triptyche
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #50 – World’s Deadliest
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #58 – All Tomorrow’s Yesterdays (Adventures version cameo)
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #62 – Adventures in Bunnysitting
Tales of the TMNT Vol. 2, #63 – Monster Island

After two children are found slain and half-eaten in the sewers Leonardo comes to believe that Leatherhead may have been responsible. Tracking down Leatherhead, Leonardo was surprised to find the mutant alligator unconscious and bound. Before he could free Leatherhead, Leonardo was attacked by King Komodo and his Monitor lizard minions, the actual killers of the children.

Engaging King Komodo in battle, Leonardo successfully managed to kill King Komodo’s minions, only to end-up being knocked unconscious with his hand bitten off. Waking up hours later, Leonardo managed to free Leatherhead and the two, with help from Michaelangelo and Casey Jones managed to defeat King Komodo.

Afterwards Leatherhead, his feud with the Turtles forgotten, introduced them to Dr. X, an Utrom left behind from when the TCRI building collapsed. Together with Dr. X and the Turtles, Leatherhead managed to assemble a new Transmat Device, unfortunately, energy projected from the device ended-up luring a group of Triceratons to Leatherhead’s lair.

Engaging the Triceratons in battle with the Turtles, Leatherhead managed to viciously maul several of them. Unfortunately, while battling the last remaining Triceraton, Dr. X and Leatherhead’s Transmat Device malfunctioned and transported Leatherhead and the unnamed Triceraton to parts unknown.

Leatherhead appeared in the 1987 series. In his first appearance, he forced the Punk Frogs as his slaves, but was thwarted by the turtles. He became a recurring villain from then on. In this series, Leatherhead has a Cajun accent.

Archie Comics: Leatherhead starts as an animal mutated by mutagen in all versions except from the Archie TMNT Adventures Comics, where he starts as a poor human named Jess Harley who lived in the swamps, and became transformed when the “witch” Mary Bones used the Turnstone on him. At first the Shredder lures Leatherhead to work with him until Leatherhead discovers that the Shredder is a villain. Leatherhead later becomes a wrestling hero at the Stump Asteroid and later a member of the Mighty Mutanimals. He and the other members of that group were killed before the end of the Archie Comics run with the Turtles characters.

Sometime before he was killed, Leatherhead appeared in a mini-series paired with Donatello. In the mini-series the brainy turtle and himself came equipped with extendable battle staffs and worked together to help save a young child in a savage land. In the mini-series he was very much the same character as portrayed in The Mighty Mutanimals comics.

Shredder's lies to cause the Gator to believe that the Turtles are his enemy.

Leatherhead appeared in the 2003 animated series. Instead of a villain, he was an ally to the turtles with a scientific mind like Donatello.

Leatherhead first made a shadowed cameo in “Secret Origins, Part 3” escaping from the TCRI building during the raid. He was first seen in the episode “What a Croc”, where he was helping Baxter Stockman and had built the Turtlebot which was like the 2003 version of the 1987 series Metalhead. Unfortunately for Stockman, the doctor accidentally allowed Leatherhead to know he once worked for Shredder; since the Utroms had adopted Leatherhead he immediately got angry. Eventually Stockman bombed the location and Leatherhead sacrificed himself to save the Turtles. Later in season 3 it was revealed that Leatherhead had in fact survived the ordeal, but had been taken captive by Agent Bishop. The Turtles soon helped Leatherhead escape. He reappeared in a number of subsequent episodes as an ally to the Turtles, including the raid on the Shredder’s building facing Hun.

Back to the Sewer: Leatherhead can be seen in Donatello’s memory in the episode “Identity Crisis”. Leatherhead appears in attendance for Casey and April’s wedding in “Wedding Bells and Bytes”. He is seen crying because weddings make him cry.

Video Game Appearances:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project: Boss (Sewer Level) — Appearance is that of the action figure.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time: Boss (Train Level) — Before fight, says, “Oh goodie, fresh turtles for lunch.” Appearance is that of the Original Cartoon design. In the remake, Re-Shelled, Leatherhead no longer has the hat and looks more sinister and realistic.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist He appears as the boss of the first level. Appearance is that of the Original Cartoon design.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Battle Nexus: Boss character in the Turtles’ old lair, as well as Battle Nexus mode.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Mutant Nightmare: Leatherhead is shown in the background in a cutscene near the end of Episode 1. There is no reason given why he is there in space with the Turtles, Casey, and April. In reality, this is because the scene was taken directly from the cartoon, where he was with them for some time.


Pop Culture

April 24, 2009

The Simpsons, Episode 80 – Marge in Chains

May 6, 1993

Bart: We flushed the gator down the toilet, but it got stuck halfway, and now we have to feed it.

Grandpa Simpson: I’ll bet you want a piece of me! Well, you ain’t gonna get it, see!


“Alligators were introduced to New York City’s subway system in the 1800s to combat the rat problem. The alligators eat the rats and all is well, except that the city regularly needs to pump out the alligator’s waste. This is one of the special trucks.”




“Alligators in the sewers form one of the most enduring and endearing urban legends known. Sadly, today’s sewergators are threatened by a diminishing supply of the gullibility so crucial to their survival. In response to this crisis, Sewergator Enterprises has joined forces with renowned folklorists to establish a refuge on the Internet, the only place in the world still capable of meeting the special needs of the sewergator population. Here, with your help, the subterranean saurians can flourish as never before.”


Hello!  My name is Jacques-Yves Cousteau.


I am a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studies the sea and all forms of life in water.

I recently read Robert Daley’s fascinating excursion under the sidewalks of New York, “The World Beneath the City” (1959).  Daley was born and educated in New York City and prior to becoming novelist, served as Deputy Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  One chapter, in particular, “Alligators in the Sewers” (pp. 187-194) was of particular interest to me.  I will recount this information as follows:

Robert Daley's "The World Beneath the City" (1959)

Robert Daley's "The World Beneath the City" (1959)

ALLIGATORS, small boys and at least one horse have accidentally swum in the sewers of New York.  The boys and the horse seem not to have enjoyed the experience, but the alligators throve on it.

Sewer inspectors first reported seeing alligators about 1935, Teddy May being Superintendent at the time.  Neither May nor anyone else believed them.

“I says to myself,” May recalled, “them guys been drinking in there.’  He refused to approve reports mentioning alligators.  Instead, he set me to watch the sewer walkers to find out how they were obtaining whiskey down in the pipes, and where they hid it when off duty.

Before long Teddy’s checkers reported that there ways no evidence of clandestine booze below decks, but that inspectors were still claiming narrow escapes from alligators.

“I’ll go down there and prove to youse guys that there ain’t no alligators in my sewers,” rasped Teddy.

A chastened Teddy May returned to his office a few hours later.  Had he been a drinking man, he would have poured himself a stiff one.  He sat at this desk screwing his fists into his eyes, trying to forget the sight of alligators serenely paddling around his sewers.  The beam of his own flashlight had spotlighted alligators whose length, on the average, was about two feet.  Some may have been longer.  Avoiding the swift current of the trunk lines under major avenues, the beasts had wormed up the smaller pipes under less important neighborhoods, and there Teddy had found them.  The colony appeared to have settled contentedly under the very streets of the busiest city in the world.

Teddy could not comprehend how they had got there and, though he wouldn’t admit it, he did not know how to get rid of them.

Various sewer inspectors advanced their own theories about the origin of the anachronistic reptiles.  The most plausible was this: During those years painted turtles had become a fad among youngsters, and nearly every boy or girl had a bowl or tank in their house containing a “collection.”

Because turtles sold so well, dealers began to import their distant cousins, lizards, salamanders and even alligators, riding the fad for all it was worth.  Now turtles, lizards and salamanders do not grow much and, handled roughly by children, die rather easily.  But the recently hatched alligators, shipped up from Florida in tiny perforated boxes, grew and grew and grew until the bowls and tanks which contained them were too small.  At Junior’s insistence, the residence of the friendly ‘gator was thereupon transferred to the family bathtub, only the gator wasn’t too friendly any more and Dad had grown extremely nervous about lifting him out every time anyone wanted to bathe.  Also, those were depression times and the voracious appetites of the beasts became a bit nerveracking too.

As the days passed, Father grew madder and madder.  Junior’s tears would not be able to save his pet much longer.

Finally the breaking point came.  Either the alligator went, or Father went.

Having reached this decision, a new problem arose.  How does one kill a two-foot alligator–you can’t stuff a live one in a garbage can.  Various ways were considered and, in most cases, discarded.  Poison was difficult to obtain, expensive, and a risk with children in the house.  Besides, who would hold Junior while a wad of strychnine was rammed down the throat of his “friend.”

No one wanted to use a knife on the beast.  Merely to touch it was repulsive to most parents, who hardly relished the prospect of sawing through that armor.

So parents adopted the easiest way.  One night after Junior was in bed, Father rushed into the bathroom, grabbed the alligator by the tail and, teeth bared insanely now, darted out into the street, straight for the corner sewer.  His strength increased tenfold by the emotion of the moment, Dad dug two fingers under the manhole cover and whipped it aside.  With a plop, the alligator disappeared.

Dad’s feeling of release, as he walked back to the house, was ecstatic.  He hated alligator, so he thought, was gone forever.

Within a day or two of admitting that there really were alligators in the sewers, Teddy May was able to face the problem of eliminating them.

A few months later they were gone.  Some succumbed to rat poison.  Others were harassed by sewer inspectors into swimming into the trunk mains, where the Niagara-like current washed them out to sea.  Some were drowned when blockages filled their secluded pipes with backwash–to the very top.  And a few were hunted down by inspectors with .22 rifles and pistols–not as part of the job, but for sport–possibly the most unusual hunting on earth, a veritable sewer safari.

… I, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, will begin my search for the surviving sewergators.  Please join me on this journey beneath the city of New York.