I doubt there is anyone in our office that is more capable of writing a post about urban legends.
I was one of those people that had huge problems going to the toilet alone when I was little because someone had so nicely told me that there was living a monster in my toilet, which would eat me alive if it was hungry. One would hope that I was the only one pranked with this horrible urban legend, unfortunately most of my friends were as well. But that is what Urban Legends are: entertaining and often scary stories with uncertain origin, which people (to some extend) think are true.
However, this article is not about me, but about the most well-know urban legends in large cities around the globe:
New York: New York is home to several urban legends, most known is the one about the alligator in the sewer. It all started with a little boy from New York, who went on vacation to California and took a little alligator back home to have as a pet. When his alligator got to large the boy flushed him down the toilet – several people have stated to have seen an alligator in the New York sewer ever since.
Less known is the urban legend about the ice skaters of Central Park. It’s said that there were two sisters living in Manhattan in the 1800s, who loved to skate. These two sisters died only months apart and since then they hunt the ice skating field in Central Park. The only problem about this story is that the ice rink was built in 1949 and not in the 1800s.
Dakar: In Dakar and several other West African countries it is believed that some people have the possibility to shrink men’s penises just by shaking the unfortunate person’s hand. Some people have even been beaten to death or burned alive because others thought they had this power. Did I hear someone say Crazy?
Paris: This story told in Paris is often seen as an urban legend, but it is actually a true story. In 1988 Mehran Nasseri ended up as a refugee on Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris after having his suitcase with important papers stolen. He was originally from Iran, however due to political implications he lost his passport and was expelled from Iran. After being sent back and forth between many countries in Europe he finally ended up at Charles De Gaulle and could not get anywhere due to not having valid papers. He lived on the airport for 10 years before he was sent to a homeless shelter in Paris.
London: In London the Underground has several urban legends connected to it. One of them is that Buckingham Palace has its own platform (like the Queen would ever take the metro). Another urban legend is a tunnel was built connection London with the Burlington Bunker, which is a Nuclear Bunker were the government could evacuate to under the cold war.
Amsterdam: If you ask any Dutchy about Hans Brinker, he will immediately know who you are talking about. The little boy saved Amsterdam from a flood with one finger. As the little boy was walking home he noticed a leak in the dike and decided to stick his finger in the hole to save Amsterdam from the flood. It is said that he stood there the whole night hoping people would come by and help him.
Sydney: In Sydney an urban legend about the choking Doberman (dog) is told. One night a couple who had been out for a few too many drinks came home to find their dog choking in the living room. The man fainted, but the woman decided to call her old friend who was a vet and dropped of the dog at the vet’s office. After dropping off the dog she decided to go home and get her man into bed. It takes her a while to get him into bed and in the meantime, the phone rings. The vet is screaming hysterically that they need to get out of the house immediately. As the vet was an old friend of the couple, the woman decided to get her partner and leave the house as fast as possible – not knowing what is going on. As they come down the stairs, several policemen were running up. The woman asked what was going on and the policeman gently told her the dog was choking on a man’s finger. After a while they found this man – dead in the bedroom. I am not completely sure that this urban legend from Sydney, but the source were I got it from stated it.
Tokyo: Taira no Masakado was a Samurai who fought as a rebel against the Kyoto government in the 900s. After they cut of his head, his head was sent to Tokyo to be buried. The head is buried in the now well known business area of Tokyo. Several people believe that when you move the shrine that was built over the head, something bad will happen to you: it has happened to several people trying before.
Los Angeles: If you have been driving on the freeway in Los Angeles, there is a chance that you’ve seen the ‘freeway chickens’. The story states that a truck filled with chicken fell over on the freeway and after that there has been a colony of chickens living on the Los Angeles freeway. The chickens are there in real life, however the story of how the chickens got there, was never confirmed.
Stockholm: In Stockholm all of the metro trains are green. However, there is one unit that is silver and goes by the name Silverpilen. This unit can only be seen now and then, but no one drives it. They usually say that it stays at the Kymlinge metro station which is an abandoned station. It’s said that only the dead people get off at this station.
Trondheim: In Trondheim you have the largest stone cathedral of Norway. It is said that there is a priest ghost walking around choking people he doesn’t like in the cathedral. Last time he killed someone, the person who stood beside the person who got killed could only see hands pressing around the neck, but not an actual person. In the same cathedral supposedly holds the remains of Olav, however no one has actually been able to figure out if this is true or not.
Copenhagen: Since we’re on the subject of churches, I might as well tell you about the urban legend of the Church of our Savior in Copenhagen. About this place it’s said that the architect of the spiral jumped from the spire and killed himself because he realized the spiral turned the wrong way.
Naples, USA: In 1950 there was a bus full of young kids smashed by a train as it stopped on the middle of the railroad crossing. Today, if you drive to the same railroad crossing and put baby powder on your bumper and put your car in neutral it’s said that your car will automatically go forward and off the train crossing. Afterwards you will see handprints of children’s hands on your bumper.
Naples, Italy: Since I wrote about the Naples in America, I think it’s needed to write about Naples in Italy as well. If I won’t, there is a little Italian in our office (Gigi) who will become rather sad. Anyhow, the story in Naples is about the Castel dell’Ovo (the Egg Castle). The story in short: The poet Virgil put an egg in the foundation of the castle when it was built. He then said that as long as the egg stayed OK, the city of Naples would stay OK as well. That’s basically like jumping from the Eiffel tower, thinking you will survive when you hit the ground.
Slovakia: If you listen carefully to the song Yellow Submarine by the Beatles, you will hear a Slovakian sentence at 1.35 min into the song. The sentence said means more or less “Piss off” in English. Even today 40 years later, no one has any idea why that sentence is in the middle of the song.
Italy: In Italy there is an urban legend about burglars on the trains. It is said that the burglars slide a hose under the cabin door which contains knock out gas. Thereafter they will just open the door and steal all your belongings. It is said that most of the people this has happened to are American students. We all know what Americans are known for right?
Budapest: Close to the chain bridge in Budapest, which is connecting Buda with Pest, there can be found several lions carved out in stone. It is a widespread urban legend in Budapest that none of these lions have a tongue. You should go there yourself to see if it’s true or not…
Istanbul: In Istanbul they have an urban legend about the Marble King which was Constantine XI Palaiologos , the last Byzantine Emperor. The legend states that when the Ottomans entered the city, an angel rescued the emperor, turned him into marble and placed him in a cave under the earth near the Golden Gate, where he waits to be brought to life again.
Miami: This urban legend is rather disturbing, but oh well, many of them are. It is said about smugglers that there are some that kidnap children close to the border of America, then kill the child and cut it open, place drugs in its organs and then walk over the border while carrying the child acting like it is sleeping. Juck.
USA: The ‘crying baby on the bridge’ is an urban legend that has been going around throughout the USA and it seems to be connected to several bridges. The urban legend says that a young couple with their baby drove on the bride when their car suddenly broke down. The husband decided to go get help while the mom waited outside the car – with the baby sitting inside. After a little while the mother turns around to look at the baby and finds it on the rooftop of the car, covered in blood. She starts screaming and runs to her husband, but when they come back the baby or the blood are nowhere to be found. It is said that if you now go to any of these bridges at night you can hear the baby cry far away.
Moscow: The London and Stockholm metro are not the only ones that have urban legends, the Moscow has some as well. The most well-known one is that the military built a whole network of new tunnels and metro lines as well as an underground city during the cold war, so the politicians could go from A to B unnoticed.
Dublin: Ever heard about the boy that stole a penguin from the Dublin Zoo? Well, there is an urban legend about it. It states that the boy went to the Zoo with his family and saw this lovely little baby penguin. After coming home the boy ran straight to the bathroom and stayed there. After a while his mom got worried so she went into the toilet where she found the boy and the penguin swimming around in the bath tub. The family eventually gave the penguin back to the zoo, but was never allowed to go back there again. If I knew that was possible, I would have stolen that lovely little dolphin I always wanted when I was little.
Does your city have any urban legends? Let us know!