Photo Exhibits

Photo exhibits spotlight various topics in Florida history, and are accompanied by brief text intended to place selected materials in historical context.

Alligators in the Backyard

Chip Bloyd in his backyard with baby alligator purchased at Silver Springs: Panama City, Florida (1962)

Chip Bloyd in his backyard with baby alligator purchased at Silver Springs: Panama City, Florida (1962)

Image Number: N027579

The selling of baby alligators was common before 1967 (when they were listed as an endangered species). This practiced led to one of the most popular and persistent urban legends -alligators living in New York (and other city) sewers. The idea was that tourists who purchased the immature alligators soon tired of the pets once they returned home and disposed of them through their toilets. The gators then allegedly prospered in the warm sewers, feeding on rats, and growing to massive proportions. While no evidence of their presence exists, that has not stopped writers and filmmakers from capitalizing on the fantastical idea.

Postcard of a Florida alligator (1937)

Image Number: PC0179

Tourist souvenirs and other forms of popular entertainment featuring alligators were common by the 20th Century. Alligators were featured on everything from T-shirts, mugs, and postcards to movies, television programs and popular fiction. The postcard reads: "An old timer in Florida."

Pine needle alligator made by Jean Bishop: Orlando, Florida (1987)

Image Number: FS91805

Alligator Alley toll booth area: Everglades, Florida (1969)

Image Number: C673628

Ross Allen wrestling an alligator for the Today television show: Silver Springs, Florida (19--)

Image Number: RC13409

Members of the Today Show, Hugh Downs and Arlene Francis, are at the right.

Neighborhood children with young alligator: Leon County, Florida (1980s)

Image Number: PR30006

Schlesna brothers and friend with alligator they caught: Ramrod Key, Florida (1992)

Image Number: CM0527

Stanley and Milton Weinkle sitting on a stuffed alligator: Miami Beach, Florida (1931)

Image Number: MS26250

A Florida postcard featuring an alligator (1909)

Image Number: RC07974

The postcard reads: "A Native of Florida."

Postcard of Palmetto Beach (in Tampa) featuring an alligator (1900s)

Image Number: PC0183

Postcard of Palmetto Beach (in Tampa) featuring an alligator (1900s)

Image Number: PC2877

The name "Joe" has been applied to numerous alligators across the state, most famously at Wakulla Springs. This postcard is titled "Caught by Joe."

Postcard featuring alligators: "The Private Lesson" (1893)

Image Number: PC0182

Copyrighted by Havens 1893.

Postcard of children with alligator (1910s)

Image Number: PR07669

Postcard was titled "Safely Back to Jacksonville."

Postcard of alligator: "A Florida man-eater" (19--?)

Image Number: PC0050E

While human encounters with alligators have proven fatal in a few cases (usually from infection or blood loss - not digestion), humans are not on the alligator's natural menu. In most cases, attacks occur because an alligator mistakes a human for smaller prey. However, a few cases arise from an alligator's perception of being threatened, or in rare cases, out of protection of their nests and young. The feeding of alligators can increase the occurrences of unwanted human-alligator encounters as alligators begin to associate humans with food.

At his evening job lulling the alligators to sleep (19--)

Image Number: PC3603g

Two women posing with a stuffed alligator (19--)

Image Number: PR00128

The Fighting Gators at the University of Florida (19--)

Image Number: N045209

University of Florida chose the alligator as their mascot in 1911. Today their main rivals are the Florida State University's Seminoles, a rivalry mirrored in both legend and many tourist attractions featuring Seminole alligator wrestling.

Aerial view of the Gator Bowl football stadium in Jacksonville (1954)

Image Number: RF00191

Home of the annual Gator Bowl (first held in 1946), the stadium was first built in 1949 (an earlier version of the stadium was called Fairfield Stadium and was considerably smaller). Today it has been converted into the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and is home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. This image was taken during a Gator Bowl game between Auburn University and Baylor University in 1954.