Does anyone know about an urban legend called the Manhatten Piller?
November 20, 2006 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know about an urban legend called the Manhatten Piller?

A friend of mine is doing research for a paper on urban legends, and he put this question to me. I'm stumped, so I thought I'd put it to you.

"I'm trying to find reference on a New York urban legend called the Manhattan Pillar.
According to the legend there is a huge pillar supporting the Island of Manhattan.
The pillar constantly spins until one fated day when it will stop, and Manhattan will sink into the river. It would suck to be in times square that day.
Does anyone know where I can find more info about this?
I've tried search engines. But all I get are article about
David Blaine standing on a 83 foot pillar foe 3 days.
Which is cool. I like david Blaine.
But is doesn't help me."
posted by juliarothbort to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Here's one link. You'll need to sign up for a (free) account to read it. Not the most useful summary, but it's something.

I think it's more accurately described as folklore than urban legend, so if she's searching with those terms it might be worth taking them out of her query.

Also, there is a message board at; has she tried posting there?
posted by loiseau at 2:09 PM on November 20, 2006

This was a central plot point in an episode of the Ghostbusters cartoon TV show in the 80s or early 90s. Don't even ask me why I remember that. I've never heard of it since.
posted by autojack at 2:54 PM on November 20, 2006

Dr. Jan Harold Brunvand -- Mr Urban Legend himself -- has answered my e-mails in the past. You can find his contact info here. He might have an idea.
posted by pfafflin at 3:17 PM on November 20, 2006

autojack: Ghostbusters is also where I remember it from. The pillar was greased with ectoplasm...
posted by limeonaire at 4:33 PM on November 20, 2006

Also, you could probably find information about it more easily if you searched for "Manhattan pillar"

(Not trying to be a jerk, just trying to help.)
posted by limeonaire at 4:35 PM on November 20, 2006

A moving pillar with all the gears and other associated mechanical devices to support its movement was seen at the very end of the anime series The Big O.

It's hinted that the city is really not unlike a theater's deck, with various mechanizations in what's traditionally the stage's trap room.

Though they never define Paradigm City as being New York, there's a ton of context clues that point you in that direction. Coney Island is a big one, for instance.
posted by owenkun at 7:54 AM on November 21, 2006

Here's the first posting on the site that was mentioned above:

During colonialism, New York was purchased from the local Aboriginals for what seemed like a steal.

A man was exploring an area where he encountered a sinkhole. Now thinking, like Treasure Isle (Oak Isle) that this may be a pirate’s hole, he asked the owner of the land if he may go down and explore.

Given the go ahead, and agreeing to divvy up the spoils, he attached a line to a tree and lowered himself down. What he saw beggared his imagination. It was an underground cavern or chasm, with a sea below. Stalactites hung everywhere, and in one spot a huge one grew to the ground, resembling a pillar.

Spooked by this he hauled himself up.

The thought in his mind, “What if the ground caves in?"

The hole was covered with tree limbs and whatnot. Over the years it became overgrown again. It is now probably completely filled with water, for comparatively recently, the Staten Island Ferry reported a whirlpool in the bay. This caused some consternation, so some barges were sent out and huge blocks of concrete & debris were added until it was covered up. These "holes" in the sea are reported infrequently. Charybdis of myth was one and was still observable until the 1800’s.
posted by owenkun at 8:18 AM on November 21, 2006

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